A Kid in Time and Space: How I Introduced my Son to ‘Doctor Who’

“Mom… I want to watch Doctor Who.”

The LEGO video games have always been a bit of a gateway in our household. I’ve always found them to be an excellent way for Younger Son to get interested in properties that have played a big role in our geeky lives: from Marvel to DC, and from Harry Potter to The Lord of the Rings. We play our way through them, pure mother and son bonding time, and then emerge to immerse ourselves in the source worlds from whence they came.

So when, flush with Christmas money, he chose to purchase LEGO Dimensions, I wasn’t surprised.

I did, perhaps, cackle madly. I knew what was coming. Continue reading A Kid in Time and Space: How I Introduced my Son to ‘Doctor Who’

When Violence Gets Personal: Kilgrave and the Tenth Doctor

Considering our abiding love for Daredevil, it’s no surprise that the adults in my household are mad about Jessica Jones. Mad in the good way. Mad in the shaking my fists at the sky and shouting, “Finally!” kind of way. I’m not a reader of comics much, but a big fan of all things Marvel. And, tired of seeing female superheroes erased from t-shirts and toys and posters, it’s good to be watching a show where she’s front and center. She’s a badass. She’s complicated. She’s flawed. She’s broken. She’s powerful.

Plenty has been said on this matter. I’ve finally finished the first season, and I’ve got lots of thoughts.

But I’m not talking about Jessica today.

Today I’m talking about Kilgrave. (Caveat: minor spoilers below.)

Continue reading When Violence Gets Personal: Kilgrave and the Tenth Doctor

Geeky Ornaments to Knit and Crochet

The air cools; fall begins, and out come the sweaters! I love knitting and crocheting, but as a mother of three small children I don’t have the time for large projects like sweaters.

This year I thought I’d spend my autumn months knitting and crocheting some geeky holiday ornaments! Here is a list of both knitted and crocheted ornaments you can make. Keep them for yourself or gift a bit of geek to any nerd on your list! Some of these are actual ornaments and some are amigurumi that you can add a simple yarn loop or a hook to for hanging. Continue reading Geeky Ornaments to Knit and Crochet

GeekMom Secret Origins: Samantha Fisher’s Journey Started With The Doctor

I’ve been asked many times through the years how I became the big ole nerd that I am. It has been asked in many ways by many types of people and I choose to believe it is always asked out of jealousy of my awesomeness. I mean, how could anyone not want to be just like me, right? I usually laugh, make a joke, or will reply with my standard response of, “It just happened over time, there was no one thing or event.”

Over the last few days, as I prepared to join this wondrous team known as GeekMom, I’ve been actively thinking about this topic. No easy task for a busy gal with ADHD and a to-do list that would make a lesser person weep, but perhaps highly overdue. Why did I become a geek? Most people I know can attribute their geekiness to someone in their family who is also a geek. They picked up their love of this or their fascination with that by observing loved ones in their passionate undertakings. Alas, there is no one in my immediate family who has the same predilections as I.

How did this happen? I’m going to tell you my story. You tell me yours.  Continue reading GeekMom Secret Origins: Samantha Fisher’s Journey Started With The Doctor

How I Became A Cool Geek Mom

Like most supermoms, I wear many capes. I’m a drama teacher by day, an actress by night, as well as a geeky mom, hot wife, and writer.

I was born with an extra dose of confidence and have never been one to worry about what other people think of me. I handle rejection like a seasoned pro and because of this, I have always felt free to dress the way I want to and express my various fandoms out loud for other people to see.

For example, when I drop my kids off at school, I might wear some Hello Kitty shoes with bright pink pants, a Doctor Who belt, and a Harry Potter jacket. Or I may wear my R2-D2 dress or Cinderella costume to promote my drama classes. I am no stranger to a raised eyebrow or sly smiles from onlookers. All of this was “normal” for my two kids until my daughter, the oldest, turned 11. Continue reading How I Became A Cool Geek Mom

‘Doctor Who’ Season 8 Is Now Available on Netflix… And Really Awesome

Image credit: BBC
Image credit: BBC

They say you “never forget your first Doctor,” and I find it to hold true that whichever Doctor someone starts out with ends up remaining their favorite. Personally, I started with and loved the Ninth Doctor, very slowly warmed up to the Tenth, and disliked the Eleventh through his entire run. I guess I’m just a no-bow-tie kind of girl.

So when Netflix announced earlier this month that season 8 of Doctor Who was now available, I was very excited to finally get rid of Eleven and meet the Twelfth Doctor.

The only thing I had overheard (and that had been implicated in Twelve’s teaser trailer) is that Twelve was “the dark Doctor.” Did that mean he was evil now? Stern? Unlikable? I wasn’t sure.

Well we’re only halfway through season 8, but I couldn’t wait to talk about it. I love Twelve!! Dare I say I might even love him more than Nine? *Gasp!*

Yes, this Doctor is darker. Not evil, just much more realistic. Whereas Nine, Ten, and Eleven always miraculously saved the day, Twelve seems to leave a pretty significant death toll in his wake. More than that, he seems totally okay with it as he consistently exposes the deaths as justifiable (paraphrase: “He was going to die regardless of what we did, so instead I saved ourselves”). He is no longer the all-knowing and all-powerful hero that Nine was, or the quirky idealist that Ten and Eleven were. It makes the Doctor feel suddenly much more “human”—if that term can be applied to an alien. In fact, he can be a condescending a**hole sometimes—*cough* *cough* “Kill The Moon” episode *cough*.

What I’ve enjoyed even more than watching the Doctor coming down off his goody-two-shoes miracle-worker pedestal is the deprecating banter he has with Clara that is reminiscent of the Ten+Donna “oy!” days. I keep cracking up at the gibes he throws at Clara, and while I wish Clara had more spitfire in her like Donna did, I love that Clara isn’t ruffled by it in the least.

Beyond this new Doctor being Awesome with an capital A, I have to say this season (as far as I’ve gotten, at least) has been superbly written. I love Doctor Who, but overall, I always felt some episodes were really great and some were boring fillers with subpar writing. The quality was significantly inconsistent throughout every season. In this season, however, all episodes have really knocked it out of the park for me thus far. Captivating, fresh, and clever, each episode has left me thinking “wow, that was a good one!” and “I wish I could write like that.”

For those of you keeping up with the show on the regular TV schedule, season 9 premieres September 19th. But don’t talk to me about it until it comes out on Netflix next year!

Make ‘Doctor Who’ Comics Day a Family Affair

Titan’s first Doctor Who crossover series brings together three generations of Doctors. Why not let Doctor Who Comics Day do the same for your family? All images courtesy of Titan Comics.

Titan Comics will release their first Doctor Who crossover miniseries, Doctor Who: Four Doctors!, with a global Doctor Who Comics Day event this week!

The five-part weekly comic by Paul Cornell, with illustrations by Neil Edwards, will feature the Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth Doctors, and their comic companions.

The Doctor Who Comics Day celebrations will include several location-exclusive variant covers of the Four Doctors #1, cosplay contests, giveaways, collectible merchandise, comic signings, and more at sites throughout the United States, United Kingdom, and other locations.

Cornell, Edwards, Tenth Doctor writer Nick Abadzis, and Eleventh Doctor writers Rob Williams and Al Ewing will also take part in a special live Doctor Who podcast from London’s Orbital Comics.

However, there doesn’t have to be any special appearances or extras to enjoy this event anywhere. One of the most appealing things about the entire Doctor Who fandom is how it has spawned at least three generations of Whovians, in its more than five decades of existence.

Giveaways, contests, special product offers, and site-specific variant covers await Doctor Who fans at some comic shops. Images courtesy of Titan Comics.

Here are some ways to take advantage of the family opportunities the day offers:

Take part in some inter-generational cosplay. Are you from the era of long scarves or leather jackets? Capes or Converse? Flutes or fezzes? Master or Mistress? K-9 or Captain Jack? Romana or River? Wow! There is a lot to work with in that wardrobe department. It’s amazing to see how much one show can evolve so much over the years and still remain, at its essential core, the same appealing story of adventure. Different generations dressing up like a character from their favorite Who era is, when you think of it, pretty close to time travel.

Dive into the “expanded Whoniverse.”  Titan has been doing its part, giving fans of the Doctor’s incarnations, from the Ninth to Twelfth, as well as the War Doctor, new adventures—and there will be more to check out at the event. While you’re there, also see what other types of audio dramas and novelizations, reference books, or role-playing games are out there. For example, fans of the Eighth Doctor may be surprised to find out he has been part of more non-television stories than any other Doctor incarnation, from the award-winning audio dramas like Dark Eyes to novels, to a long-running comic serial in Doctor Who Magazine from the time the movie aired to the series re-launch nearly 10 years later. He’s about to get even more stories, with Titan’s Eighth Doctor miniseries coming out in October.

Bring snacks on the road! “Would you like a jelly baby?” “Bananas are good!” “Don’t be lasagna!” Let’s not forget fish fingers and custard, Jammie Dodgers, the avoidance of beans and pears, and any other number of foodie references throughout the years. Bring along some banana chips or jelly babies (gummy bears are good substitutes). Kitchen Overlord creator Chris-Rachael Oseland also has some great Whovian-inspired recipe ideas on her website, and in her Dining With the Doctor cookbook soon to get a “regenerated” upgrade.

Make a full day of it. Doctor Who Comics Day doesn’t just have to be during a designated time and place. Enjoy those aforementioned snacks with a family lunch or picnic before the event and let everyone pick a favorite episode that night for a Who marathon.

If Doctor Who can bring people of all ages and walks of life together through 50-plus years of fandom, then The Doctor can certainly do the same for your family.

Doctor Who Comics Day is Saturday, August 15, at comic shops, bookstores, and libraries worldwide. Learn more about what’s happening on Facebook and Twitter.



13 Awesomely Geeky Aprons

My Little Pony via MTCoffinz on Etsy.
My Little Pony Rainbow Dash apron via MTCoffinz on Etsy.

I love to cook, which means I have very few shirts that aren’t stained with sauces, oils, and other ingredients from my kitchen experiments.

A few years back, I went into this super-cute general store in New England and found a handmade apron for a mere $6. It was a no-brainer of a purchase, as well as one that has saved me from having to throw out half of my wardrobe.

Aprons are an essential kitchen tool, which come in a variety of patterns. While the $6 special is hard to come by, if you’re willing to pay a few extra bucks, there are a slew of them out there that allow you to extend your geeky fashion to the kitchen—or even the convention hall. Want to see what’s cooking in the world of geeky aprons? Check out the slideshow for 13 of my current favorites.

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Shopping List:

DIY ‘Doctor Who’ Tile Coaster

Photo: Kelly Knox
Photo: Kelly Knox

When I spotted this ingenious coaster DIY on the Sharpie blog, I just had to make it for myself—with a geeky twist, of course! Sharpies and alcohol turn the ink into a gorgeous, galactic mix. Pick up a few inexpensive tiles from the home improvement store, grab some Sharpies, and you’re ready to get started on your one-of-a-kind Doctor Who tile coaster.

What You Need

  • Ceramic tiles
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Black, blue, and purple Sharpies
  • White acrylic paint
  • Painter’s tape
  • Eye dropper
  • Clear acrylic paint / varnish
  • Felt (optional)
  • Paint brush
  • Scissors
  • Glue (optional)

Get Started!

Begin by cutting and sticking the blue painter’s tape to make a TARDIS shape anywhere on the tile.

Photo: Kelly Knox
Photo: Kelly Knox

Next, use the black, blue, and purple Sharpies to draw outer space all over the tile. Be sure to cover the edges of the painter’s tape for a clear TARDIS shape.

Photo: Kelly Knox
Photo: Kelly Knox

Next, use the eye dropper to drip the rubbing alcohol on the Sharpie ink. The ink will run, blend, and form interesting patterns. You can move the tile slightly to help it mix together.

Photo: Kelly Knox
Photo: Kelly Knox

Allow the tile to dry completely.

Next, use the paint brush to splatter stars on the tile. Allow the paint to dry completely. (If there is still wet rubbing alcohol on the tile, it can create a glow effect with the white paint splatter.)

Photo: Kelly Knox
Photo: Kelly Knox

When the ink and paint are completely dry, remove the painter’s tape.

Next, spray the tile with clear acrylic paint or varnish to seal the ink.

Photo: Kelly Knox
Photo: Kelly Knox

Allow the clear acrylic paint to dry completely, and your coaster is complete! Feel free to add a felt backing to protect your coffee table from accidental scratches.

Photo: Kelly Knox
Photo: Kelly Knox

Costumes and More From ConCarolinas 2015

Arrow costumes. Photo by Debadeep Sen.
I found fellow Arrow fans to photograph with my Nyssa al Ghul costume! Photo by Debadeep Sen.

This past weekend, ConCarolinas returned to Charlotte, NC, for the 14th year. It’s a great con that I always enjoy, and this year was no different.

It was, however, quite different from last year’s event in two significant ways. Last year’s guest of honor was George R. R. Martin, which was amazing, but it gave the con a significant slant in attendance to Game of Thrones fans. This year was back to a broader audience with far fewer Khaleesi costumes.

The con also moved to an Embassy Suites with a convention center space in nearby Concord from its previous location at the University Hilton. Opinions from long-time con-goers varied on the change. Some felt the new space was a bit too large (and perhaps would have been more useful for last year’s roving bands of Khaleesis). Indeed, some panels that would have felt full in a more size-appropriate space seemed sparsely attended in the expansive rooms available in the new hotel. On the other hand, the layout on a square was quite convenient (keep walking; you’ll find what you’re looking for!). And with the amenities of an Embassy Suites (read: massive, cooked-to-order breakfast and evening drinks both included), not to mention the spacious hotel rooms for con-goers who like to pile in, I found it to be a great space for a con.

Despite a Kids Track, there didn’t seem to be particularly many children in attendance. (This apparently shortage may also be because I left my own children with their grandmother!) The schedule also featured several panels for parents that I attended, including “Getting Your Kids Into Gaming” and “Raising Scientifically Minded Children.” The latter spurred an interesting debate amongst some of the panelists over whether and to what extent we should be pushing all children into science.

Jim Craig, the panel moderator and Planetarium Director at The Schiele Museum of Natural History, commented that science doesn’t have the same cool and exciting portrayal in pop culture that it did in the 1950s and 1960s. He also noted that today, we tend to blame problems on scientists instead of politicians. After the other panelists suggested ways we can change this, such as through encouraging children with competitions and games, author James Maxey said, “The whole concept of how you make it cool is the wrong way to go. Coolness isn’t the problem—science doesn’t have a marketing problem.” He went on to say that a century ago and even more when so many great discoveries were being made, it wasn’t 50 percent of the population who understood science. It wasn’t even 5 percent. “We never needed a majority of people to understand a science in order for it to advance,” Maxey said. “So I don’t know that trying to get everybody engaged is the wisest route.”

Science guest of honor Catherine Asaro rebutted that we’re in a scientific time unmatched in history, where we all take technology for granted. She argued that to keep up with that pace, the population in general needs to be more scientifically aware. Craig replied that that’s why the smart people work to make the technology more idiot-proof, explaining that while he has a broad understanding of his phone, he doesn’t have any idea what makes the earphones work or what the science of the glass in the screen is. “I could devote years of studying to understand it, but would that enhance my life?” he asked.

“We don’t all need to be specialists,” Asaro said. “We just need the awareness that you just demonstrated.”

In far less serious hours of the con, there was a lot to take in. Doctor Who fans gathered with Fourth Doctor scarves, which they laid end-to-end in a Guinness World Record attempt. (No word yet on the outcome.) One of my favorite geek entertainers, Mikey Mason, gave several concerts. Nerd-Vana Burlesque made their ConCarolinas debut, although my favorite part of that show was not the burlesque, but emcee Rich Sigfrit’s readings of 50 Shades of Grey as characters like Ron Swanson and Pinky and the Brain. (You can see a few other of his “50 Shades of Wrong” characters on Nerd-Vana’s YouTube channel.)

If you find yourself looking for a great Southeast con to add to your schedule, you can register for 2016 now for only $30. Next year’s event will be held June 3-5, 2016. Check out the photo gallery below for some of the con’s highlights, including the great costumes.

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Re-Watching the Ninth Doctor, Ten Years Later

Screen Shot 2015-02-25 at 1.20.09 PM
Graphic artist and seasoned Who-watcher Will Brooks’ mock-up for what he’d like to see in a Tenth Anniversary Doctor Who Series One DVD set. Oh well, Ninth Doctor Fans can always dream. Image courtesy of Will Brooks.

This story is Part One of a Two-Part Series Commemorating The Tenth Anniversary of The Ninth Doctor.

Doctor Who fans have another milestone to celebrate, as 2015 marks the Tenth Anniversary of the debut of the show’s return to television after a more than 16-year series hiatus, not including the one-time made-for-television movie in 1996.

Series One of the new era of The Doctor debuted March 26, 2005, featuring the streetwise leather-and-jeans-clad Ninth Doctor, portrayed by Christopher Eccleston. The show reached a new generation of  soon-to-be Whovians, many of whom had never before seen the show. The series also introduced a new companion, Rose Tyler, played by Billie Piper, and Time Agent “Captain” Jack Harkness, played by John Barrowman. Harkness’s character became so popular, he gained his own edgy spin-off series, Torchwood, in 2006.

Cardiff Bay-based writer and designer Will Brooks has become very familiar with nearly every episode of Doctor Who as part of his ongoing daily Who-watching project, “The 50 Year Diary,” for the UK-based blog, Doctor Who Online.

“I started Jan. 1, 2013 with An Unearthly Child, and I’ve watched one episode a day every day since,” he said. “I’m currently in the middle of David Tennant’s run—so I’m closing in on the finishing line, now!”

All of Brooks’s entries for the first four Doctors (William Hartnell through Tom Baker), are available in book form via Page Turner Publishing, as well as in a Kindle version on Amazon.

“It’s been great to go back and see the series in the way viewers did the first time around,” he said. “You really get a better feel for the way that the show evolves over its first 50 years, and I’ve found so much more to love in the program than I even realized was there. I very much doubt this will be the last time I do a marathon like this.”

Having just run through Eccleston’s reign in January, Brooks provided in his series some very frank and truthful observations, criticisms, and kudos for watching every Ninth Doctor episode from Rose to The Parting of Ways for a second time.

Despite the growing pains and flaws of the newly-relaunched series, however, Brooks agreed Series One’s success was key in keeping the show alive today.

“[It was] vital for that first series to ‘get it right’ so that the program could continue and grow into the massive global success it’s become in the decade since,” he said. “As for what it got so right, it really serves to introduce the program to a new audience who didn’t know what it was. Whereas the Paul McGann [Eighth Doctor] TV movie opens with a regeneration, and there’s moments where you cut from a police box flying through space to a massive room and a funny little Scotsman in a tweed jacket, Rose, and, indeed, the whole of Series One, introduces each element to you with the assumption that you’ve no idea. It takes you as a completely new viewer and draws you into the Doctor’s world.”

Chronicling his Who-watching isn’t Brooks’s only achievement. He has a long line of impressive clients from audio drama creators Big Finish Productions and BBC Worldwide, to the popular furniture design company IKEA. Doctor Who fans may be familiar with Brooks’s work through this year’s cover designs for a Fifth Doctor audio drama trilogy, part of Big Finish’s Main Range series.

“I’ve been very lucky to be invited to contribute to the range, and feel incredibly proud to have my work alongside that of so many people I admire,” Brooks said. “Aside from that, I’ve recently been part of a team creating a range of exclusive postcards for the Doctor Who Experience in Cardiff.”

Some of Brooks's Who-related work from audio drama covers to Doctor Who Experience postcards. Images courtesy of the artist.
Some of Brooks’s Who-related work from audio drama covers to Doctor Who Experience postcards. Images courtesy of the artist.

Brooks said what people seem to most recognize of his, however, are his just-for-fun graphics he spent very little time on, thanks mostly to the rapid-paced grapevine of social media.

“In 2013, on the day of Peter Capaldi’s reveal as the new Doctor, I quickly threw together a flow chart for ‘The Regeneration Cycle’ based on a discussion I’d had with a friend, commenting on how you go from initially hating the thought of this new person as The Doctor to absolutely loving them, and never wanting them to leave,” he said. “It’s been shared around the internet far more than any of the work I’ve actually spent hours on.”

As far as the Ninth Doctor’s incarnation lasting only one season, Brooks said in “The 50 Year Diary” that he felt one season is all this Doctor needed. He also mentioned his belief that writer and producer Russell T. Davies planned this series out so that if no other episodes were commissioned, they would “stand on their own” as a self-contained story.

“Even though I think [Eccleston’s] great, these 13 episodes tell a complete story so well, that it might somehow lessen them to spend another year in the company of this incarnation,” Brooks wrote.

He added that there also doesn’t need be too much unnecessary fanfare for the Ninth Doctor’s landmark anniversary. A simple commemoration, for a no-frills Doctor, and the no-nonsense actor who portrayed him, would be very appropriate.

Brooks created this popular flow chart summing up the Whovian response to the Regeneration Cycle. Ninth Doctor had only one series to adjust before his regeneration. Image by Will Brooks.

“It’s a great achievement to have made it ten years with the show still going strong, and more popular, globally, than ever, but I’m not sure it’s something that needs to be acknowledged,” Brooks said. “Obviously, I’d love a Tenth Anniversary edition of the series to be released with some new special features—I’m a real sucker for DVD special features—a kind of retrospective look back at that first year, or maybe a simple documentary would suffice.”

He said there have been a few retrospective features for other eras in recent years, both in Doctor Who Magazine, and on the “classic” DVDs. Brooks feels this would be a suitable way to acknowledge Series One.

This type of retrospective could even be done in a way that doesn’t include any of the much-publicized theories about why Eccleston departed the show after just one, successful season, but rather concentrate on the impact of the series itself and the cast’s performances.

“It’s been interesting to see people looking back on that time now that enough water has flowed under enough bridges,” he said.

Brooks admits, however important it was for this first series to “get it right,” for the franchise to continue on the air successfully, he said Doctor Who fans are so loyal, they will always be around, series or no series.

“The Doctor Who fanbase always survives,”  Brooks said. “Had that first series been a failure, we’d all simply be hiding in the darkness like the Daleks in Bad Wolf, waiting for the next resurrection.”

Part Two: The return of the Ninth Doctor to comic books.

Get Your Geek On, Beautiful: Introducing Jordandené

Image: Jordandené - Doctor Who Don't Blink Tank
Image: Jordandené – Doctor Who Don’t Blink Tank.

Tracking PixelWe have some of the coolest sponsors, and Jordandené is no exception. Tonight, I wore my new favorite sweatshirt—a teal number that reads in script: “We’re all stories in the end.” Doctor Who fans need no introduction, but if you happen to be curious, this very awesome shirt is a quote from the eleventh Doctor and a perfect accessory for this novelist.

Hey, it’s hard finding geeky fashion. It’s hard finding geeky fashion that fits, is comfortable, and is part of something great. Jordandené helps you find all of that, and then some, with their made-in-Brooklyn designs encompassing a wide variety of designs and fandoms. The company itself is all women, so they know what we’re looking for when it comes to clothes. I’m particularly fond of their line of quotes on sweatshirts, T-shirts, and tanks, meaning you can let your geek flag fly at the gym, under a blazer at work, or just lounging about at home. It’s geeky fashion that’s subtle, gorgeous, and wonderfully well made.

Image: Jordandené - some of the sweatshirt line; I adore my Ninth Doctor one.
Image: Jordandené – some of the sweatshirt line; I adore my Ninth Doctor one.

Sure, the gym and work is great. But if there’s another room in the house where I geek out the most, it’s probably the kitchen. I mean, I’m totally in my element there, throwing together dinners after work and totally getting in “the zone” with the alchemical herbs and spices around me.

While there are some cute options I’ve seen at local kitchenware stores, I’ve never come across anything as clever and awesome as what Jordandené offers. Whether you’re a Gryffindor or a Star Trekker, a Disney princess aficionado or a TARDIS junkie, they’ve designed the most amazing aprons you can imagine. The designs are distinctive and minimalist and totally stunning, especially with the flared bottom skirts.

Image: Jordandené – Kitchen superhero.

My personal favorite? Robin. Sure, Batman is cool. But I get a little giddy over the colors when it comes to Robin, and the design is too good to pass up. Second place awesome goes to the TARDIS, of course. But you can make your decision.

And if clothes aren’t quite your thing, you’ll be glad to know that Jordandené also provides a large selection of kids clothes, tote bags, and jewelry. If you want to get some ideas on how to integrate this delightful geekiness into your wardrobe, you’ve got to check out their Pinterest pages, like this Harry Potter themed one, and their Polyvore collections like below.

Image: Jordandené  - a perfect Polyvore ensemble, Khaleesi style.
Image: Jordandené – a perfect Polyvore ensemble, Khaleesi style.

Even more exciting than sharing all this is that Jordandené is sponsoring a giveaway for our littlest geeks—that’s right, one lucky winner (chosen at random) will get an Astroanimal Baby Onesie. Just enter the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And even if you don’t win, you still will, because you can get 25% off your purchase at the Jordandené store by entering geeklove2015 at checkout. It’s valid for anything on the site.

So browse, enter, and geek on, my friends.

This post is sponsored by Jordandené.

Masques de Carnaval Pour les Geeks

Big Hero 6, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who are three places to look for geeky carnival mask ideas, but they also bear cultural connections. Image by Lisa Kay Tate.

From Venice to Rio to New Orleans, Carnival season brings out colorful costumes—and some colorful characters—during the weeks leading up to the Lenten season.

Despite some cultural differences, and the unfortunate bacchanalia, that seems to take over these celebrations, one of the most beautiful, and mostly family friendly, elements is the creation of the Carnival mask.

Mask making has also always been an important part of pop culture from superheroes needing a way to protect their identity from their foes, and science fiction, fantasy, and horror movies often feature something hidden behind masked exterior.

The villain masks, in particular, are some of the most recognizable elements of their costumes, be it Darth Vader from Star Wars or Court of Owls from recent Batman comics.

Families can get into the spirit of Carnival year round, by creating and learning about the origin of three ornate villains masks: Clockwork Droid, as seen in Doctor Who’s Girl in the Fireplace episode; Death Eater Mask from the world of Harry Potter; and Yokai’s mask from Big Hero 6.

Mask makers’ tip: Lenses from cheap sunglasses will help hide tell-tale eyes. Images: Lisa Kay Tate.

Each of these mask ideas starts with a simple white face craft mask, and requires only a paint job (no cutting needed). For all these masks, make sure to lightly draw the desired pattern on the surface in pencil before painting on the final pattern.

Also remember, those planning on wearing these masks will notice a couple of things when the mask is on the face that they didn’t see when the mask was on the work surface—their eyes. If this detracts from the mask, use a glue gun to glue lenses from cheap dollar shop sunglasses on the back of the eye holes. However, this might not be the best idea if attending a party in dark location.

Death Eater Masks. This band of dark wizards and witches loyal to Harry Potter’s main foe, Lord Voldemort, use their masks to intimate their prey and hide their identity. Each Death Eater has created their own unique design, making it easier for fellow Voldemort loyals to identify each other. As terrible as these individuals were, they were pretty creative in the field of mask design.

Although there is no real mention of this connection, these masks resemble the iron masks used in various cultures to torture and humiliate prisoners and criminals. Examples include the legend of the Man in the Iron Mask from the reign of France’s Louis XIV, and the horrifying “scold’s bridle” used to subdue women and slaves in 16th and 17th century Europe.

Special instructions: To give the mask its metal look, give it a smooth coat of silver spray paint. Once the design is painted on with felt tip or a thin brush, give it a tarnished look by lightly antiquing it with a thin wash of black paint and water.

A French museum displays mannequin inspired by the Alexander Dumas story Man in The Iron Mask (left), and its eerie resemblance to a Death Eater’s mask. Images: Public Domain and Lisa Kay Tate.

Clockwork Droid Mask. The popular episode of the Tenth Doctor’s meeting with Madame de Pompadour (Louis XV’s chief mistress), takes him back to 18th Century France. There he encounters a group of repair droids wishing to use her brain to repair broken star ship bearing her name.

The masks from this episode are heavily influenced by the elaborate masks of the Carnival of Venice, which ends the day before Ash Wednesday (the Venetian equivalent of Mardi Gras). The Carnival dates back to at least the 1160s, but Carnival attendees often take on the look of the Victorian era. The mask is so important to this celebration that one of the key events in Carnival is the “most beautiful” mask contest held the final weekend with an international panel of prestigious judges.

Special instructions: Once the colored pattern is painted on, the gilded outlines on the design can be created by carefully drawing the pattern on with a glue gun to achieve a raised texture. Once dry, paint over the glue with gold, silver, or bronze paint.

A gilded Venetian mask popular at Carnival season (left), and the mask inspired by the Doctor Who villains, Clockwork droids. Images: Wikicommons and Lisa Kay Tate.

Yokai Mask. The villainous alter ego of Professor Callaghan, Hiro Hamada’s primary enemy, uses a red and white Japanese mask for to hide his identity.

Both the name and the mask are a centuries-old part of Japanese folklore. The Yokai (loosely translated as “bewitching” or “mystery,” among other terms) are phantom monsters who come in various human and animal forms. They have been known to bring both ill fortune and good luck, depending on the countless tales or incarnations of this creature.

Special instructions: The Yokai mask featured in the movie is not a full face mask, but when working with young crafters, it is safer to get this effect by coloring in the bottom portion with black marker or paint, rather than trying to cut it.

yokai mask
Japanese Yokai concepts in human and animal form (left) and Big Hero 6‘s Yokai villain mask. Images: Wikicommons and Lisa Kay Tate.

These masks look good on their own, but some particularly festive mask makers might want to add their own Mardi Gras elements to them, by adding ribbons, feathers, or other embellishments. That is more than fine.

Mask makers in Venice were so loved by party-goers, they were given special status with their own guild and laws. This means there are no rules in making these mask ideas a personal, original statement, for Carnival, cosplay, or just a conversation piece.

Take a Seat in This Beautiful TARDIS Chair

Image: Etsy Seller WittsWhimsy
Image: Etsy Seller WittsWhimsy

Yes, what we all really want is for that magical blue box to appear in our yard one day. Chances of that are pretty slim, but you can at least get this incredible TARDIS chair for your living room. It’s a one-of-a-kind piece made by Etsy seller WittsWhimsy who turned an old chair into something entirely new.

It’s a Begere Regency chair that needed lots of love, so she started with sanding down the worn wood until it was smooth and then painted it black. The original cushion was also in bad shape so she completely remade and replaced the cushion with 4″ heavy duty memory foam.

The whole thing is then covered in silk shantung that she hand-painted in blue with that familiar TARDIS theme. It’s covered front and back so it’s the TARDIS no matter how you look at it, and there’s even a little surprise when you lift the cushion. No, it’s not bigger on the inside but it does have a field of stars as though you just opened the door to the galaxy.

The TARDIS chair is currently for sale for $695 in Illinois with shipping available throughout the United States.

(via RiellyGeek)

Geeky Tea Tasting

Our score sheets for our Geeky Tea Tasting. Image: Cathe Post.

A long time ago, at a convention not so far away…

A tea shop called Friday Afternoon said, “Try my teas!” I, of course, could not refuse. I even bought one to take home to my tea connoisseur of a husband.

I got the teas home, proudly showed them to my husband, and we brewed a couple of cups. I had already tried the teas I brought home, so I thought I was home free.

I was wrong. My husband took one sip and decided the ingredients weren’t to his taste.


The answer came to me after many, many weeks of mulling it over and staring at the bags of tea on my counter:

Have a geeky tea tasting!

This was a new endeavor for myself, as I am not the pinkies-up-pretty-pink-dresses type of girl. So, I found a flavor wheel, invited a bunch of geeky people who like tea, and headed to a friend’s house who was equipped to host such an event (yea, I don’t even own a teapot).

The reviews that follow include: a picture of the tea; a graph for each individual tea smell, color, and flavor; and an interesting quote from a taster regarding the tea. The ratings are a 1-10 scale where 10 is best and 1 is least favorable.

Friday Afternoon teas to be tested. Image: Cathe Post.

Friday Afternoon Teas were the first batch my awesome friends tested. Corrina had a couple of teas to try out of the Hogwarts line of teas. I had the others, plus an additional tea I picked up for my husband.


Badger Chart
Image: Cathe Post.

Ingredients: Black tea, lemon peel, and honey.

Badger’s Blend is the Hufflepuff tea. It was certainly a favorite among the Friday Afternoon Teas we tried this afternoon.


Serpent Chart
Image: Cathe Post.

Ingredients: Green tea, lime peel, lemongrass, and natural apple flavoring.

The Slytherin House representative was not a favorite with our testers, but my husband and I didn’t have a problem with it.


Lion Chart
Image: Cathe Post.

Ingredients: Rooibos, Assam black tea, orange peel, marigold, and natural flavorings.

Testers of the Lion’s Blend, the Gryffindor tea, seemed to be evenly split. They either really liked it or they really didn’t. I fell in the “really liked it” category, while my husband didn’t. This is the tea that spurred the entire party idea.


Pirate Chart
Image: Cathe Post.

Ingredients: Black tea, marigold petal, and natural irish cream flavor.

The Pirate King blend, though unrelated to the Hogwarts line of teas, was among the favorites from Friday Afternoon. It was simple, but had enough extra to offer that it can be made by the pot and guzzled.


Doctor Who Fandom collection. Image: Cathe Post.

In order to have a proper tea tasting, I figured we needed more than four flavors to try. I searched the web and snuck a peek at Corrina’s post on where to find geeky teas. After looking at several different options, I ended up purchasing the Doctor Who Fandom Sampler. We found a favorite out of this bunch, too—who would have thought the 9th Doctor would be an overwhelming favorite?


9 Chart
Image: Cathe Post.

Ingredients: Black tea, Assam melody tea, Ceylon sonata tea, gunpowder, and natural chestnut flavor, accented with aniseed and cinnamon.

Everyone really liked this tea. This may have been the favorite out of all of the teas we tried that day. We will be getting more! If you can tell, that little pile has white around it because that is all we have left! It was complex, but didn’t try too hard to be complex. It was just amazing.


10 Chart
Image: Cathe Post.

Ingredients: Black tea, Ceylon sonata tea, Assam melody tea, cocoa nibs, and natural chocolate flavor, accented with chocolate chips and marigold flowers.

The tea representing the 10th Doctor was a huge disappointment. Have you ever wanted hot chocolate, gone to make a cup, and found that you only have one scoop of powdered goodness remaining instead of the four the directions say to use? Then, because you want hot chocolate so badly, you just use the one scoop and suffer through, only to be disappointed to the point of gagging because the chocolate is so weak it is like water was poured in a cup where chocolate wasn’t quite rinsed out from the last drink? Ya, that is what this tasted like. You can see the chocolate in the picture, but it certainly did not transfer to the taste.


11 Chart
Image: Cathe Post.

Ingredients: Black tea, Assam melody tea, natural vanilla flavor, natural coconut flavor, and dried coconut.

The 11th Doctor tea had a good showing. No one really had anything bad to say about it. It seemed to fall in the category of a good tea to have on hand.


Rory Chart
Image: Cathe Post.

Ingredients: Assam melody tea, Ceylon sonata tea, green tea, and natural vanilla flavor.

Rory’s tea provoked a reaction along the same lines as the 10th Doctor’s: It was just too weak. There was a lot of green tea here, and not a lot else. It was sad and disappointing.


Amy Chart
Image: Cathe Post.

Ingredients: Black tea, rooibos tea, cinnamon bark, ginger root, orange peel, cloves, cardamom, raspberry leaves, natural cranberry flavor, natural vanilla flavor, cranberries, and natural orange flavor.

I am going to have to give Amy another try sometime. Its ingredients are similar to that of a chai, which have a better flavor if the water and tea are cooked together and not just steeped. I have a feeling if we would have done that, the rating for Ms. Pond would have been much different.


River Chart
Image: Cathe Post.

Ingredients: Black tea, rooibos tea, orange peels, blue cornflowers, natural vanilla flavor, lemon grass, natural bergamot flavor, natural creme flavor, marigold flowers, natural lemon flavor, natural coconut flavor, and dried coconut.

Hello, sweetie. Your tea is a solid okay. I thought it was pretty good, but then again I like (tea) Earl Grey (hot).


Genmaicha Chart
Image: Cathe Post.

Ingredients: Green tea and toasted brown rice.

Not geeky, per se, but one of my husband’s favorites. You see those outliers in the graph? That 6, 3, and 1? Ya, those are me. I hate Genmaicha tea. Because I was so far removed from the other people who tried this tea, I did not include my quote, but it was along the lines of feeling like all of the moisture had been sucked out of my mouth and nose so that I was left with an aftertaste of burned rice and ash. It was not pleasant to me at all.


Star Wars sugar cookies. Image: Cathe Post.

What would a tea party be without cookies? We dug out the Star Wars cookie cutters, so my husband could whip up some sugar cookies for us to nibble between teas. Overall, I was quite happy with how the party went and I am excited that everyone was willing to give their input on the teas so I could provide you with geeky over-the-top graphs and non-biased opinions.

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Friday Afternoon Hogwarts teas provided for review purposes. All other teas were chosen and purchased by me.

The Doctor Who Christmas Quiz

Doctor Who (s8) Christmas Special
Image: bbc.co.uk

Whether it’s David Tennant and a hot air balloon, or Matt Smith and some creepy snowmen, one thing’s for certain: All bets are off with the Doctor Who Christmas special. A staple of British viewing over the holiday season, the Doctor Who Christmas special has a long history of great story telling. No matter the events of the season, if you like the companion or not, even if you like the Doctor or not, the Christmas special always delivers.

So, while you are waiting to see Peter Capaldi and Father Christmas dance their holiday dance, why not take the Doctor’s Christmas quiz over at British Sci Fi Magazine SFX and see how well-versed you are in the festive side of our favorite Galifreyan.

I scored 30%. Now I shall go drown my sorrows and shame in mince pies.

The GeekMoms’ Christmas Trees and the Geeky Stories Behind Them

A collection of the GeekMoms' trees. Collage by Jules Sherred.
A collection of the GeekMoms’ trees. Collage by Jules Sherred.

The GeekMoms thought it would be fun to share our Christmas trees and the geeky stories behind them. We would also love it if, in the comments, you shared images of your Christmas trees—via a link to your photo(s)—and the stories behind them.

Without further ado, let the sharing begin!

GeekMom Andrea’s Christmas Tree

Photos and collage by Andrea Schwalm.
Photos and collage by Andrea Schwalm.

GeekMom Andrea had this to say about her tree:

I did the unthinkable this year and suggested that for the first time in our family’s history we buy a fake tree. Every year as December approaches my husband and I have moved around the furniture in our cozy living room until it looks like something closer to a garage sale than a celebration in order to fit a giant, live tree in our space. It makes no sense. Plus: I come from a long line of fake-tree people. Pink trees. Aluminum trees…

It was time to stop living the “real tree” lie. It was time for a narrow white tree. With fiber optics. I think our tree this year is fabulous. My dream is to decorate it in an Atomic Ranch style—lots of spaceships and sputnik stars and robots and optimism about the future.

GeekMom Ariane’s Christmas Tree

Photo by Ariane Coffin
Photo by Ariane Coffin

GeekMom Ariane had this to say about her tree:

Here’s my crazy tree. How my husband puts up with it, I’ll never know. Much like the rest of our house, it’s all about BRIGHT OBNOXIOUS COLORS! And Hello Kitty. And being that generation who never has actual prints of photos… I keep thinking, “This year will be the year I insert photos in all of the photo ornaments! I’ll put them in the tree to remember to do it!” Yeaaaaaah, no. It never gets done.

GeekMom Judy’s Christmas Tree

Individual images by Judy Berna. Collage by Jules Sherred.
Individual images by Judy Burna. Collage by Jules Sherred.

GeekMom Judy had this to say about her tree:

Every year we pay ten dollars for a permit that enables us to cut our tree from the National Forest here in Colorado. It helps the forest, by thinning out smaller trees, and it is a grand family adventure, no matter how old our ‘kids’ get. We hike through the woods and try to keep in mind that a tree that looks ‘normal sized’ in the forest is actually big enough to take up our whole living room. We get teased by family members who live in other states that we’ve become the Griswalds (from the Christmas Vacation movie) when we hike out into the woods, but we don’t mind. That’s what family memories are made of!

Geeky Jules’ Christmas Tree

Day and night. Photos and collage by Jules Sherred.
Day and night. Photos and collage by Jules Sherred.

Geeky Jules had this to say about his tree:

While my tree isn’t geeky, the fact that my OCD took 13 hours to decorate it kind of is. Plus, I’m still fiddling with little things here and there until my OCD is happy. But not only that, it’s a completely different concept than trees of past. This is the first year I haven’t used garland or tinsel, and decided to go with a very specific color scheme.

In response, GeekMom Ariane said on Twitter:

My response was:

OMG, this is so me!

Oh, how I laughed.

GeekMom Kay’s Christmas Tree

Kay's tree
Photo by Kay Moore

GeekMom Kay  had this to say about her tree:

We are themeless, no geekiness at all. My mom spent several decades collecting handmade ornaments, and I gave her one for Christmas each year. A few years ago, when we were in town, she retired from holiday entertaining and invited the extended family over to take turns selecting favorite ornaments. So now I have a bunch of old family favorites, including some that I made many many years ago as gifts for my mom.

I cherish a handful of handmade embroidered, needlepointed, knitted, etc., ornaments from our crafting family and friends. Our actual stockings are cross-stitched by my mom and me.

The other sort-of theme we have is to hang sturdy, survivable ornaments on the lower branches, where the cat’s mischief wreaks havoc.

We usually have a gold garland, but not loose tinsel. My husband likes loose tinsel but he usually is doing other things during the tree decorating. We often have bubble lites. I like best of all sparkly reflective ornaments, which conflicts with my textile sensibility.

Oh, I make mini stockings. I give one to my mom for each family member below her on the family tree, and I have a small, less custom, collection for decorating a mini tree.

GeekMom Lisa’s Christmas Tree

Individual photos by Lisa Tate. Collage by Jules Sherred.
Individual photos by Lisa Tate. Collage by Jules Sherred.

GeekMom Lisa had this to say about her tree:

Our main tree has always been just a collection of our loves, memories and travel, with several geeky highlights throughout—Batman, TARDIS, Disney, comic book, and video game inspired ornaments— but we felt the ultimate Star Wars vs. Star Trek geek war needs to mingle in a little “Peace on Earth… and Beyond” tree with several ornaments from both franchises. Last year, we also updated our wreath to have a Hobbit theme as a perfect welcome for friends and family. Our girls have created their own little “Ever After” tree with Disney Princess, fairies, Hello Kitty, and My Little Pony, as well as decorating their “Doctor” for the season.

GeekMom Maryann’s Christmas Tree

Individual photos by Maryann Goldman. Collage by Jules Sherred
Individual photos by Maryann Goldman. Collage by Jules Sherred

GeekMom Maryann had this to say about her tree:

In our house, it’s all about the collections. For years, the boy and I have been adding to our snowman, snowglobe, nutcracker, elf, and ornament collections. We make lots of trips to the local thrift stores looking for new treasures. It’s a real joy each year to unwrap long lost friends and arrange the collections for enjoyment. It’s not so much fun wrapping them up safe and sound until next year. I also pride myself on spending hours taking Christmas pictures of my tree, as well as local neighborhood displays. The geekier, the better.

GeekMom Natalie’s Christmas Tree

Individual photos by Natalie Zaman. Collage by Jules Sherred
Individual photos by Natalie Zeman. Collage by Jules Sherred

GeekMom Natalie had this to say about her tree:

We’ve had an artificial tree for about ten years, so I was very excited to get a real tree into the house again. Our ornaments are a hodgepodge of things we’ve collected over the years and things my children have made, and they all go up every year. The oldest is a little book, Saint Nicholas that
my mom had since before she was married—she’s 86, bless her—and the newest is a 3-D version of Edward Gorey’s “The Doubtful Guest”–I got him last week when I was on Cape Cod doing research–and I *finally* got to go to the Edward Gorey House. It was loads of fun and very special–his cousin gave us a tour of the place.

GeekMom Patricia’s Christmas Tree

he Vollmer family's new color-changing LED tree gracefully transitions between white lights and colored lights every 10 seconds. The neighbors get a kick out of it. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.
The Vollmer family’s new color-changing LED tree gracefully transitions between white lights and colored lights every 10 seconds. The neighbors get a kick out of it. Photo: Patricia Vollmer.

GeekMom Patricia had this to say about her tree:

I love our family’s new Christmas tree. After a couple years of wishing, we finally made the splurge for an LED prelit tree that changes colors. The particular one we got changes the colors very gracefully, slowly transitioning between white lights and colored lights every 10 seconds. The decorations plan on our tree has evolved over the years into numerous geeky “zones”: Disney, trains, Penn State (our alma mater), Star Wars, Harry Potter, and other geekery (such as The Simpsons and Ghostbusters). Our 9- and 12-year-old sons have taken over most of the decorating duty, and they are very good about keeping to the zones. In addition to the zones, we have many traditional ornaments, such as souvenirs from our travels, commemorative ornaments, and kids’ homemade ornaments.

The different zones. Photo: Patricia Vollmer
The different zones. Photo: Patricia Vollmer

GeekMom Rebecca’s Christmas Tree

Individual photos by Rebecca Angel. Collage by Jules Sherred
Individual photos by Rebecca Angel. Collage by Jules Sherred

GeekMom Rebecca had this so say about her tree:

We do have regular decorations collected over the years, but I rarely put them up. I like to think up a theme of some sort, like origami or completely edible. This year it was knitted: so almost everything is a knitted thing of some sort. Our geekier side comes out in the other decorations. My son has three locations for extensive Lego Christmas displays, usually with some silly stuff happening with random figurines. I included a picture of Wolverine hanging a wreath.

GeekMom Sam’s Christmas Tree

Sam Collage 2
Individual photos by Samantha Cook. Collage by Jules Sherred

GeekMom Sam had this to say about her tree:

Our family has a pretty traditional looking tree with old fashioned glass ornaments. But every year we all pick a new ornament, and write the name and year with Sharpie on the bottom. It is a wonderful way to remember holidays and interests past. When you look closer, you can see our ornaments tend to be on the geeky side!

GeekMom Sarah’s Christmas Tree

Individual photos by Sarah Pinault. Collage by Jules Sherred
Individual photos by Sarah Pinault. Collage by Jules Sherred

GeekMom Sarah had this to say about her tree:

I love Christmas trees. I have far more ornaments than I could possibly put on one tree. Before we had kids, we would put one up in the kitchen that had just our Disney ornaments on it, then the main tree in the living room with as many of the others as I can possibly squeeze on. My favorite ornament is my Department of Homeland Security Ornament. I found it in Boston shortly after I became a US citizen. We have many, many Hallmark ornaments, as Ben’s maternal grandparents send everyone a new ornament from that collection each year.  Ben has 22 of his own, we have 12, and the boys have six and three respectively.

It’s a beautiful tradition that I plan on continuing with my own grandchildren, in about forty years time! We have a lot of Disney ornaments, because I am a Disney nut. But my favorite kind of ornaments are the traditional glass kind. There are only two on our tree this year, but I love to find traditional baubles in unusual colors, or to find unusual glass figurines. We have a glass robot and a hiking Santa that are simply beautiful and they are on the tree. With a five-year-old and almost three-year-old in the house, my other glass baubles are still in the box! Last year, I gave myself an early Christmas present and bought new lights. I love them with a fervor that is not normal.

GeekMom Sophie’s Christmas Tree

Photo by Sophie Brown
Photo by Sophie Brown

GeekMom Sophie had this to say about her tree:

Here’s ours. It’s a complete mishmash, too: stuff from when I was a kid; ornaments we’ve collected on trips; things Fin has made at school. I like my trees to be totally chaotic but also totally balanced. It takes me forever to decorate them to a level I can cope with!

We don’t have a theme, but there’s a lot of Disney stuff on there. There are several painted porcelain discs from WDW, two of the custom ones you can have personalised at Downtown Disney—one is our wedding, another for Fin’s first Christmas—some special baubles that commemorated the 35th anniversary. This year I’ve added a set of the singing busts from Haunted Mansion. It’s kind of funny because the busts are nestled up next to completely traditional things like robins, angels, and Santas.

I have tiny tree in my office that’s about one-foot high, including the pot. That has a pin badge of Castiel at the top of it! I kind of want to make a Cas costume for one of my old Ken dolls so it can go on top of the tree next year. Not sure what my husband would think of that!

Oh, and we have a Christmas pterodactyl in the living room! #sixseasonsandamovie

Please share images of your Christmas trees and the stories behind them. We’d love to see and read them!


A Doctor Who Christmas Teaser

Photo courtesy of the BBC.

So what does a man with two hearts and over 900 years under his belt ask Santa for? Will this be Clara’s last outing? Will we see a new companion or have to wait for next season? Will there even be a next season after Moffat’s interesting writing choices in the last one?

All this and more may or may not be answered in the Christmas Day special of Doctor Who. The annual Christmas episode arrives just as certainly as the man in red.

According to the press release: “In Doctor Who, the Doctor and Clara face their Last Christmas. Trapped on an Arctic base, under attack from terrifying creatures, who are you going to call? Santa Claus! Will this really be the Last Christmas for the Doctor and Clara? And what exactly are these terrifying creatures? It’s not the first time the Doctor has visited the Arctic of course. It’s previously been home to an Ice Warrior in Cold War—and the Cybermen!”

The episode, entitled “Last Christmas,” may or may not feature the song of the same name. Though I am a huge fan of Christmas music, I am erring on the side of not having a George Michael appearance!

GeekMom: Comic Book Corner — Power Ponies, Lumberjanes, and Doctor Who

Meet the Power Ponies \ Image: ComiXology
Meet the Power Ponies \ Image: ComiXology

Happy Comic Release Day! Welcome to another installment of GeekMom Comic Book Corner, where we recap our adventures in comics for the week. This week I dive into the world of the Power Ponies while Lisa tackles Doctor Who, and Sophie has a sleepover with the Lumberjanes.

Dakster Sullivan — My Little Pony Annual 2014 by Ted Anderson with art by Ben Bates

MLP Annual 2014 \ Image: IDW Publishing
MLP Annual 2014 \ Image: IDW Publishing

My Little Pony Annual takes us on a journey to Maretropolis, a world that the Mane Six and Spike visited briefly in season four of the TV series. Maretropolis is the home of The Power Ponies, a superhero powered group similar to the Justice League. The issue takes off running with a robbery by the Pharaoh and his mummy minions (say that six times fast). The Power Ponies rush in to save the day and after the glamor of their victory is complete, we see their true nature at Power Pony Headquarters and it’s not pretty. They are the most disagreeable group I’ve seen. It’s a wonder they can cooperate when taking on the baddies.

Their lack of friendship is what ultimately puts them at the mercy of their rouges gallery.

Looking back, the entire issue reminds me of an episode of the Justice League: The Animated Series when Gorilla Grodd formed the Legion of Doom and they almost took out the Justice League. The way the Power Ponies ultimately overcame the evil Mane-iac and her evildoer team was fun to read. Taking down the bad guys took least amount of play out time in the book, but the lack of time involved in the final battle didn’t bother me.

Overall it was a very fun read and well worth the money I had to fork out for it, which was a little more than normal because of it being an annual issue.

Age Recommendation: All Ages

Curious to know what I’m pulling this week? Check out my pull list on Comixology.

Lumberjanes #7 \ Image: IDW Publishing
Lumberjanes #7 \ Image: IDW Publishing

Sophie Brown — Lumberjanes #7 by Grace Ellis and Noelle Stevenson with art by Brooke A. Allen

Lumberjanes #7 answers a lot of questions for us but leaves plenty to be going along with as well. The issue opens with the girls, now teamed up with Camp Counselor Jen, attempting to retrieve the mysterious crystal from Rosie’s office. There’s some great old-fashioned farce comedy and a lot that will appeal to adults too as Jen flips from exhilaration at going against the rules to terror when she realizes she’s probably about to get fired!

In the woods the secret identity of Diane is confirmed, and if you were paying attention last issue then I doubt it will come as much of a surprise. There’s some drama when parts of the group realize others have been keeping things from them, and nothing runs smoothly while suspicions are flung about, but that never stops them from working together. Friendship to the max after all! Of course it’s not long until something happens that draws them all together once again and leaves us on yet another cliffhanger.

My favorite thing about this issue is the art during the walk through the woods. As Diane explains her story the background shifts behind the girls from the dark woods to artwork reminiscent of Ancient Greece. The panels give the impression that the girls are walking around the side of the sort of ancient pottery you’ve probably seen in a museum. It’s subtle but beautiful and really adds to the background of the story without the need for adding in forced flashbacks. It’s these details that really make Lumberjanes a cut above so many of the comics currently on shelves.

Age Recommendation: All ages

Lisa Tate — Doctor Who Eleventh Doctor Adventures #3 by Rob Williams with art by Simon Fraser and Gary Caldwell

Doctor Who Eleventh Doctor Adventures #3 \ Image: Titan Comics
Doctor Who Eleventh Doctor Adventures #3 \ Image: Titan Comics

Like the difference between the Tenth and Eleventh Doctors’ on-screen incarnations, the Eleventh Doctor’s new Titan Comics Series takes on a style completely its own.

While the Tenth’s Doctor’s first adventure is fast, sarcastic, and slightly dark, this series is a little more wild and lively with an edge of melancholy. It certainly is more colorful, both literally, in the characters and aliens portrayed, and in the storytelling style.

This story takes place soon after the events in Issue #2’s story (penned by Al Ewing with the same art team). In #2 Doctor’s mis-timed attempt to treat his new companion, Alice Obiefune, to the unspoiled paradise of the planet Rokhandi, he lands in the planet’s new, garish, and over-the-top-happy theme park where unhappy or disagreeable guests are handled in a sweetly sinister way. He “corrects” this dilemma, in a way, but actually makes things a much worse for Rockhandi.

In this third issue, the same entity behind the theme park fiasco seems to taking on a more devilish role in helping struggling musicians get their big break. This includes one young, talentless little performer in the 1960s, John Jones, who seems vaguely familiar in a pre-Bowie/Ziggy Stardust, David Jones kind of way. As in true Doctor/Companion formula, the pair have to figure out when, how, and if this performer blossoms to his superstar status… and who’s behind this music history hiccup.

The Eleventh Doctor has always been one of the more childlike incarnations of The Doctor, and the humor, some of it a little sophomoric, keeps that sense. However, the most interesting character is Alice. I like Alice as a companion quite a bit. She’s resourceful, smart, and not two dimensional.

The Doctor took her on board as a way to help cheer her up after a series of tragic turns in her life, but she doesn’t spend much time either wallowing in self-pity or following The Doctor around like a goggle-eyed loyal puppy.

She lets The Doctor know where he stands in her opinion right way, and it is definitely not in front of her. She even comes across as a protector and savior for Eleven a time or two in the first three issues alone. I know companions come and go, but I hope they keep her around awhile…for the sake of both the reader and The Doctor.

Age Recommendation: Tweens and up

Doctor Who The Twelfth Doctor #1 \ Image: Titan Comics
Doctor Who The Twelfth Doctor #1 \ Image: Titan Comics

Doctor Who Twelfth Doctor Adventures #1 by Robbie Morrison with art by Dave Taylor

Titan Comics’ latest Doctor Who Adventures series featuring the Twelfth Doctor has just been released, and it more than keeps up with the other two Doctor series.

The Doctor and Clara, thinking they are about to land on a frozen, snow-filled planet, find it has been recently—and artificially—changed to a tropical, hot jungle. Finding the one responsible for the environmental interference is only part of the problem, as The Doctor also investigates the source of an unsettling distress signal he received before landing on the planet.

Unlike the new series for The Doctor’s two previous incarnations, The Twelfth Doctor is still in his inaugural television season, and doesn’t have too many “lost adventures” yet to work with. This comic sticks with his current companion, and familiar face for Whovians, Clara Oswald, who is undergoing the same “real life” and “life with Doctor” juggling as she is in television series. This gives the reader a chance to jump right into the story, without a quick introduction to new characters.

The current Doctor, Peter Capaldi himself, should be pleased with his first comic book portrayal. The dialogue is smart, snappy, and funny. The comfortable interchange between The Doctor and Clara plays well in this story, and even includes The Doctor’s own jabs at his former incarnation.

When The Doctor scolds Clara on caring too much about people’s “packaging” rather than what’s on the inside, she reminds him his last “self” didn’t mind the “odd bit of pretty packaging.”

“The ‘Me’ that thought a fez—an item of apparel resembling and upturned plant-pot—was cool?” he replied, noting a sense of “sophistication and timeless sartorial elegance” has been restored with his current self.

I’ve been keeping up pretty religiously with Titan’s Doctor Who series, and so far this first Twelfth Doctor series has been my favorite. It’s exciting, fast-moving, funny, and mysterious.

I’m looking for that to change when the first of the five-part Ninth Doctor mini-series comes out in March 2015. Even with the Doctor’s changing face, personality, and battles, one thing remains constant: We never know what’s going to be on the other side of the TARDIS when you open that door.

Age Recommendation: Tweens and older

Looking for something else, readers? Check out this week’s listed books:

DC-Comics-Old.jpg marvel-logo1.jpg

Adventures Of Superman Volume 2 TP
Batman ’66 Volume 1 TP
Batman ’66 Volume 2 HC
Batman And Robin #35
Batman Eternal #28
Batman Superman #15
Batman Volume 5 Zero Year Dark City HC
Batwoman #35
Earth 2 World’s End #2
Fables #145
Green Lantern New Guardians #35
Hellblazer Volume 9 Critical Mass TP
Infinite Crisis The Fight For The Multiverse #4
Justice League #35
Justice League 3000 Volume 1 Yesterday Lives TP
MAD Magazine #530
New 52 Futures End #24
Red Hood And The Outlaws #35
Supergirl #35
Teen Titans #3
Teen Titans Go #6 Kid Friendly
Trinity Of Sin #1
All-New Ultimates Volume 1 Power For Power TP
All-New X-Factor Volume 2 Change Of Decay TP
Amazing Spider-Man Volume 1 The Parker Luck TP
Avengers And X-Men Axis #2
Avengers World #14
Daredevil #9
Daredevil Volume 1 Devil At Bay TP
Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu Out Of The Past TP
Deadpool Dracula’s Gauntlet HC
Deadpool’s Art Of War #1
Death Of Wolverine #4 Final Issue
Death Of Wolverine The Logan Legacy #1
Edge Of Spider-Verse #5
Fantastic Four #11
Hulk #7
Loki Agent Of Asgard #7
Magneto #11
Marvel Masterworks Ms. Marvel Volume 1 HC
Marvel Zombies The Complete Collection Volume 3 TP
Miles Morales Ultimate Spider-Man #6
Ms. Marvel #9
Ms. Marvel Volume 1 No Normal TP
New Avengers #25
Original Sin Annual #1
Painkiller Jane The 22 Brides #3
Powers Volume 1 Who Killed Retro Girl TP
Spider-Man 2099 #5
Spider-Man Newspaper Strips Volume 2 TP
Storm #4
Superior Foes Of Spider-Man #16
Thanos A God Up There Listening #2 (Of 4)
Thor Epic Collection Volume 1 The God Of Thunder TP
Uncanny X-Men #27
Wolverine And The X-Men #10
idw-logo.jpg Dark-Horse-Logo-2.jpg

Adventure Kartel HC
Blaze Brothers Volume 1 TP
Judge Dredd #24
Skippy Volume 3 Complete Dailies 1931–1933 HC
Skylanders #1 (Of 5) Kid Friendly
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #39
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles New Animated Adventures #16 Kid Friendly
Action Philosophers HC
Art Of The Evil Within HC
B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth #124
Black Sky Sampler (One Shot)
Bride Of The Water God Volume 16 TP
Criminal Macabre The Third Child #2 (Of 4)
Dark Horse Presents #3
Prometheus Fire And Stone #2 (Of 4)
Star Wars Legacy II Volume 4 Empire Of One TP
Star Wars Volume 4 A Shattered Hope TP
Station 16 HC
Strain The Night Eternal #3
Terminator Salvation The Final Battle #10 (Of 12)
Usagi Yojimbo Saga Volume 1 HC
Usagi Yojimbo Saga Volume 1 TP
Veil #5 (Of 5)
Witchfinder The Mysteries Of Unland #5 (Of 5)

Acronym Key: VC = Variant Cover / HC = Hard Cover / TP = Trade Paperback 

Disclaimer: Some of the writers may have received review copies of the titles they reviewed.

GeekMom: Comic Book Corner — Doctor Who, Metal Gods, X-Files, The Flash, and Batgirl

Cover to Batgirl #35. Copyright DC Comics, art by Babs Tarr.

Happy comic release day! Welcome to another installment of GeekMom Comic Book Corner, where we recap our adventures in comics for the week. This week, Corrina tells us all about the new Batgirl and Metal Gods, while Lisa goes on a journey with a time lord, Sophie visits with The X-Files, and I continue my journey into The Flash!

Dakster Sullivan — The Flash: Season Zero #3 by Brooke Eikmeier, Andrew Kreisberg, and Katherine Walczak with art by Phil Hester and Eric Gapstur

In issue #3, Barry continues in his “new to the hero” ways and takes on a “Jumanji” of a situation in Central City. With tigers, monkeys, and gorilla jokes running rampant through this issue, I kept expecting our main villain to be of the talking-gorilla persona. Instead, we are left with a cliffhanger that is making me believe our main villain is of the “mad” persona and one that I didn’t expect to see out of Gotham (you see where I’m going with this?). If the villain is who I think it is, then this series is about to get a lot more interesting.

If I’m wrong and it’s not who I’m thinking, then the series still has its beautiful art and occasional Spider-Man-like jokes to keep it going.

This issue didn’t clear up anything about who knows about Barry’s new double life, but the subtle knocks at Barry by a few individuals is helping me sort it out for myself.

Age Recommendation: 12 and up

Curious to know what I’m pulling this week? Check out my pull list on Comixology.

Lisa Tate — Doctor Who: Tenth Doctor Adventures #2 by Nick Abadzis with art by Elena Casagranda

Doctor Who: Tenth Doctor Adventures #2 \ Image: Titan Comics
Doctor Who: Tenth Doctor Adventures #2. Image: Titan Comics.

When Titan Comics first announced the first story arc for its new Tenth Doctor series, I was excited by the prospect of The Doctor among the pageantry of the Dia De Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations. However, in true Doctor Who form, the intended celebration becomes a jumping-off point for a completely different type of adventure, as something threatening has entered the planet via a laundromat’s washing machines.

Comic-book veteran Nick Abadzis has done an excellent job with the dialogue, especially the hyper ramblings of The Doctor’s Tenth incarnation. It’s hard not to hear David Tennant’s voice when reading, but that seems to be the intended result. Artist Elena Casagrande captures facial expressions with simplicity and beauty.

Although the first issue of both Titan’s Tenth and Eleventh Doctor series had more alternate covers than I’ve ever seen for a single issue, the cover art on Alice X. Zhang’s issue #1 and #2 is by far the most stunning.

Those used to the fast-paced frenzy of the latter-day episodes of Doctor Who may have felt like grabbing someone’s hand and pulling them along a bit. After all, this issue is primarily dedicated to getting to know the story’s companion, Gabby Gonzalez.

The second issue moves at a much more swifter pace and also keeping with the spirit of Doctor Who, the “monsters” are not what they seem. Keep with the story and there will be excitement, perilous situations, and “an outrageous amount of running involved.”

Age Recommendation: Young readers to adult (If they are old enough to watch the series, they can enjoy the comic.)

Metal Gods Issue 2 Cover
Copyright Von Allan.

Corrina — Metal Gods by Von Allan, Batgirl #35 by Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, and Babs Tarr

Know those creators whose words you read and you think: Why isn’t this person better known? That’s how I feel about Von Allan’s work. From his poignant comic-of-age story The Road To God Knows, his fun all-ages book, Stargazer, and now, Metal Gods, Allan’s a multi-talented artist-writer who’s been the recipient of the Coral Endowment for the Arts Award.

Metal Gods is his latest work. It’s about Nick and his girlfriend Lo, battling a cult that seems to have control of Nick’s wayward and slightly nutty parents. As Allan’s website says,”If you like action, adventure, ‘splosions, and good old fashioned storytelling, we think it will be right up your alley.” You can find the first three issues on Comixology.

Age Recommendation: Adult situations, so at least 14+

Batgirl #35: This has been the eagerly awaited first issue of not only a new creative team, but a look and feel that’s part of DC’s effort to do something new and different with their monthly comics. The first of those books to hit stands was Gotham Academy #1 last week and it’ll include the upcoming Arkham Manor.

It’s hard to describe what this issue of Batgirl is like without showing you all the interior pages, but to me, this felt like a story set in the DC Animated Universe—and I mean that as high praise. It’s fun, fast-paced, features a Barbara Gordon who uses her intelligence to defeat the villain, and the artwork reminded my younger son of some of his favorite animated universe tie-ins. I was worried this Barbara Gordon would feel like a completely different character, but she’s still Babs, focused and smart, but a little bit more relaxed. I was even more pleased to see Black Canary as part of the supporting cast, though less thrilled to see Canary so angry throughout the issue. The reboot DC did three years ago hasn’t been kind to Canary, so I’m hoping this anger dissipates and she’s back to the more mellow, impetuous, and kick-ass Canary I love. But she’s in the hands of an excellent creative team now, so I have hopes.

As for Barbara, as much as I loved Gail Simone’s first 34 issues of the title (and I did love them), I’m glad to see DC giving this new take a chance too, especially as it’s appealing to all.

Age recommendations: Rated 12 + for sexual situations, though it’s all implied, nothing shown.

The X-Files Year Zero Issue 3 \ Image: IDW Publishing
The X-Files Year Zero Issue 3. Image: IDW Publishing.

Sophie Brown — X-Files Year Zero #3 by Karl Kesel  with art by Vic Malhotra and Greg Scott

Last week, saw the release of issue three of the Year Zero X-Files spin-off and it was another great installment to an already impressive run.

Last month left Ellinson and Ohio in grave peril, as the Manitou attacked out in an isolated cabin. This month picks up right in the action, as Ellinson explains how they escaped in the form of a written report. As is often the case, the local law enforcement is all too willing to accept the explanation that’s easiest to palette, even if it doesn’t quite account for all the facts—and it’s good to see Ohio’s obvious discomfort with the situation. The first 40s section of the comic ends off with a nice scene between the pair that mimics Mulder and Scully beautifully, as they discuss the events they just witnessed and come to the realization that they might be more alike than they first realized.

In the future, Mulder and Scully are working to convince Mr. Spoon that he is indeed in danger, but he is more concerned with the well-being of the animals at his clinic. It’s a strange scene that has me wondering if there is more meaning than I’m currently seeing embedded within, as it doesn’t function to move the plot very far along before we’re back in 1946.

Ellinson and Ohio’s report goes down as well as you’d expect from a pair of agents assigned to the X-Files, but Ellinson’s a smooth talker and she quickly gets them back on the case to chase up Mr. Zero in Long Island. Ohio gets one heck of a scene (she’s rapidly becoming my favorite comic book character) and we discover that she too has perfected the “Scully Glare”—I guess it’s par for the course when you’ve been partnered up with the bureau maverick! Things soon get interesting when they bump into Dorothy, who has just returned from what she claims was a dinner date on a distant planet, and receive a threatening call from Xero himself.

The final part of the comic is set in the present day and is one of my favorites to date, a classic X-Files stakeout, which leaves plenty of opportunity for some Mulder and Scully bantering. Karl Kesel has perfected the Mulder voice and trademark dry humor, as well as Scully’s knack of getting to the bottom of things as she deflects him. Our favorite agents get some action too (if only…) when they raid Spoon’s home, only things don’t go quite the way they’d planned, leaving us with another fantastic cliffhanger.

Don’t mind me; I’ll just be over here pre-ordering the hardback collection of this truly wonderful series.

Age Recommendation: 15 and up

Looking for something else, readers? Check out Diamond Comics’ complete list of new releases!

Disclaimer: Some of the writers may have received review copies of these titles. 

Daleks on Sesame Street? ENUMERATE!

Sesame Street Season 45
ENUMERATE © Sesame Workshop

I thought nothing could top the geekiness of last season on Sesame Street, but the show, which starts its 45th season in September, isn’t stopping there. Did you ever think you’d see the TARDIS materialize on Sesame Street?

With spoofs of Game of Thrones, Star Wars, The Avengers, Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, and more planned for this season, I might be getting a bigger kick out of Sesame Street than my daughter this year.

If you don’t believe PBS is reaching out to geek families, Sesame Street even had a remarkable presence at San Diego Comic-Con in July. And Elmo, Murray, and the rest are no strangers to conventions. It’s Numeric Con that’s one of the biggest events of the year for the Street’s residents, who get just as excited as SDCC’s most hardcore comic book fans—but about numbers.

Sir Ian McKellen, Emily Blunt, Tina Fey, Mindy Kaling, Zachary Quinto, and many more celebrities are also making an appearance this season, along with First Lady Michelle Obama.

I bet right now you’re still wondering just how in Westeros toddlers and preschoolers are going to watch anything related to Game of Thrones. PBS describes “Game of Chairs” a spoof where “Grover competes to be king or queen by playing a suspenseful game of musical chairs.”

In the Game of Chairs, you win or you cry!

The 45th season of Sesame Street begins on September 15, 2014.

5 Teapots to Make Tea Time Geek Time

Sherlock is also fascinated by five teapots. © BBC.

Geeks and tea go together like Picard and Earl Grey. Granted, it’s the height of summer and a hot drink might be the furthest thing from your mind, but you can start planning ahead now for cool autumn nights by checking out this list of phenomenally unique teapots. Some are blatantly nerdy and some are subtle references to your favorite shows, but all are must-haves for tea-sipping geeks.

© ThinkGeek


You can’t have a list of geeky teapots without having ThinkGeek’s well-crafted TARDIS pot at the top.

This officially licensed Doctor Who teapot, which comes in blue and chrome, is practically a must-have for any Whovian who needs a super-heated infusion of free-radicals and tannin, just the thing for healing the synapses. (ThinkGeek, $39.99)


United Kingdom Map Tea Pot

© Rockett St George

If you’re throwing a tea party and inviting Sherlock Holmes and Jim Moriarty, only one teapot will do. Sherlock fans with an eye for detail will spot Benedict Cumberbatch pouring a cup of tea in “The Reichenbach Fall” with this gorgeous bone china teapot with a hand-printed map of the United Kingdom.

And if you need the perfect brew to serve, don’t forget to stop by Adagio Teas for fandom-inspired tea blends. (Rockett St George, £72.00)


Doctor Who TARDIS and Dalek Design Teapots

© BBC America

If you’re looking for something a little more subtle than a TARDIS shaped teapot, this sleek porcelain design might be more up your alley.

The “Doctor Who Home Collection” teapots from BBC Worldwide also feature a Dalek, if you prefer to EXTERMINATE your tea. (Truffle Shuffle, £39.99)

Saenger Set
© Paramount

Captain Picard’s Tea Set 

© Saenger Porcelain

Peter Saenger’s tea sets fit together like puzzles, and look right at home in Captain Picard’s quarters on Star Trek: The Next Generation. (Anyone else daydream about having tea in Picard’s quarters? Just me? Anyway…)

The Design II porcelain teapot and cups fit snugly together to keep warm even in the cold vacuum of Federation space. Saenger’s sets are unique and wonderful conversation pieces themselves. (Saenger Porcelain, $275)


Nightmare Before Christmas Teapot

© Disney

If you’re sipping hot tea on a cool Halloween night while you wait for trick-or-treaters, there’s no better teapot to brew it in than this Nightmare Before Christmas-inspired teapot.

Featuring the colorful trio of Jack, Sally, and Zero, this teapot works just as well sitting on your counter for all to see as it does brewing tea. (Fun to Collect, $39.99)


Father’s Day Gift Guide 2014!

Happy Fathers Day! \ Images by  Dakster Sullivan
Happy Fathers Day! \ Images by Dakster Sullivan

Welcome to this year’s Father’s Day Gift Guide! With the big day just around the corner on June 15th, we’ve come up with a list of items we know any dad would love. Whether your dad is into books, clothes, electronics, or toys, we have them covered!


Astonishing SpiderMan & Wolverine \ Image: Amazon
Astonishing SpiderMan & Wolverine \ Image: Amazon

Astonishing Spider-Man & Wolverine
What could be better than seeing heroes that are polar opposites having to work together to survive an out-of-control journey through time? I can’t think of anything. Watching the witty and intelligent Spider-Man being forced into a team-up with a guy like Wolverine, someone not known for his patience with the webcrawler, is pure fun from start to finish.

Cost: $15.00 on Amazon

Birdmen: The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss, and the Battle to Control the Skies by Lawrence Goldstone
Birdmen is a true story about the feud between the great air pioneers and the dangers they faced in air and on the ground to achieve their dream. This is a great book for the history-loving dads!

Cost: $20.97 on Amazon

Tic Tac Tome
For the dad who likes a challenge, Tic Tac Tome is for him. At first, I wasn’t 100% sure about this one, but after playing it myself, I’ve found it be a nice way to take a break at my desk. Essentially what you’re doing is playing against a book in the game of tic tac toe. What makes this challenging though is there is only one way to beat the book. It’s a fun book that anyone can play with (or get frustrated with).

Cost: $9.00 on Amazon

Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities
Cool Tools: A Catalog of Possibilities is a highly curated selection of the most awesome tools available. The term “tools” includes maps, software, DIY books, gizmos, pretty much anything highly useful. Tools include hand tools, maps, how-to books, vehicles, software, specialized devices, gizmos, websites, and much more. This huge book reviews 1,500 items. It’s impossible to open it without digging in.

Cost: $29.97 on Amazon

Make: Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing
Make: Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing \ Image: Amazon

Make: Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing 2014
Make: Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing 2014 is the go-to resource for the latest in 3D printing technology, feature and model comparisons, plus 3D printing tutorials.

Cost: e-book $7.99, paperback $9.49

Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers: The Secrets of Ancient Fermentation by Stephen Harrod Buhner
There are plenty of books on home brewing. You won’t find another volume like Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers: The Secrets of Ancient Fermentation. The author writes about ancient beer that was made for ceremonial use, healing, and daily use. Certain plants were included to give the brew stimulating, aphrodisiacal, euphoria-producing, even psychotropic properties. Hops weren’t commonly used, since hopped ale was known to dull the senses and diminish desire. That all changed when authorities instituted regulations that standardized hopped beer. Yes, the author provides recipes for authentic ancient ale made from those magical plants.

Cost: $31.00 paperback

A Playful Path
The newest book by fun guru Bernie DeKoven, A Playful Path, is made up of tools and ideas to inspire the possibility-building, wide-open glory of playfulness in work and family life. It’s really an essential guide for How to Be Human.

Cost: ebook free, paperback $21.95


Image: JunoJumper
Image: JunoJumper

JunoJUMPR is a portable battery that let’s anyone jump their car without having to flag down a second car to handle the jumping part. In addition to jumping your car, you can also use it to charge your USB devices. For the dad who wants the stats, this little guy packs an impressive punch with a 6,000mAh lithium polymer battery and can produce a 12 Volt output at a peak of 300 amps. The best part is that it only weighs 7 ounces and is the size of an average cell phone, so you can carry it anywhere. 

Cost: $89.99 on JunoJUMPR’s website

Phiaton: Chord MS 530 Wireless, Noise-Cancelling Headphones
The Phiaton: Chord MS 530 Wireless, Noise-Cancelling Headphones will give dad the gift of quiet so he can listen to whatever his heart desires. The noise-cancelling on these headphones is so good, my brother uses them at work to tune out his co-workers on days he really needs to focus. The downside is they work so well, you might have to poke your dad with a stick to get his attention, because he won’t be able to hear you after he puts them on.

Cost: $290.98 on Amazon

These classic sleep headphones will allow dad to snooze off to his favorite nap time tunes without any discomfort from bulky headbands. You can also go to SleepPhones website and download free music for dad to fall asleep to.

Cost: $29.39 on Amazon

Neptor \ Image Amazon
Neptor \ Image: Amazon

Neptor: NP056K Dual Port Portable Battery Charger
Make sure dad is never without his electronics with a portable battery charger. This one is lightweight and could fit in dad’s pocket. Don’t let the slim design fool you, because this little guy can charge two devices at once (one phone and one tablet). 

Cost: $49.99 on Amazon

Roku with AirCastLive
AirCastLive allows dad to use his iPhone or Android mobile device to capture, save, and share the special moments he captures on his phone and then send it to a smart TV or Roku device.

Cost: $5 for the app on Roku and 1GB of free storage space, with options for up to 40GB for $39. The app will be free from June 9th thru June 16th

Griffin Power Dock
Griffin PowerDock 5 is a great electronic organizing tool. It can hold and charge up to 5 devices at a time. All you need to do is plug your USB cable into the dock, wrap it around the bottom of the base to hide the wires and you are all set. It’s recommended for iOS devices, but has been tested successfully with Kindle and Android devices, though charging times will vary.

Cost: $75.00 on Amazon.

Justice League Collection by Griffin Technology

The Justice League collection by Griffin Technology has some fun accessories for dad’s iPad including headphones, case, and stylus. I love my Superman case for the iPad and the matching stylus that goes with it.

Cost: Starting at $14.99 and up

Logitech Harmony \ Image: Amazon
Logitech Harmony \ Image: Amazon

Logitech Harmony Ultimate
This all-in-one remote will help Dad streamline control of the TV, consoles, Roku, TiVo…anything with a clicker can be consolidated. And this universal remote can be aimed at anything in the room and still work; no more honing in on tiny sensors from across the living room. The touch screen is intuitive, and the Harmony Ultimate also lets you control all of your devices with an app on your phone.

Cost: $349.00 on Amazon

Clothing and Accessories

Booq Boa Courier 10
This is a great looking messenger bag for the dad on the go. The stabilizer strap helps make sure it stays secure on dad when he’s riding and the padded interior will keep his iPad and other belongings safe. For added safety, the bag has a reflective trim that lets dad be seen even in low light conditions.

Cost: $81 on Amazon and $95 on Booq website

Ogio Newt 15 \ Image: Ogio
Ogio Newt 15 \ Image: Ogio

Ogio Newt 15 Laptop Bag
Ultimate backpack for a stylish and organized dad. The front pocket has slots for pens, and notepads. The smaller top pocket is designed to hold smaller peripheral devices such as an mp3 player, phone, and their charging accessories. The main compartment is fleece-lined for dad’s iPad or tablet devices and the larger main compartment is fleece-lined for dad’s laptop or other must haves.

Cost: $99 on Amazon

Cosplay Apron by Simply Superheroes
For the dad that likes to cook, check out the character aprons over at Simply Superheroes. If you live in the U.S, use the money you save with free shipping to pick dad up something extra. If you find something that is perfect for dad, but it’s out of stock, you can sign up for email alerts to learn when it will be back in.

Cost: $19.99 on Simply Superheroes website

Dollar Shave Club
Give dad the gift of a clean shave with the Dollar Shave Club. For as little as $4 a month, you can have dad’s razors delivered to his doorstep. The best part is that the Dollar Shave Club is a lot cheaper on the wallet than picking razors up at the grocery store.

Cost: $4 and up per month

Image Credit: http://ministryofsupply.com/

Men’s office wear from Ministry of Supply
Office wear with high tech cred. Think dress shirts made from NASA thermoregulatory material, socks infused with odor-absorbing carbonized coffee, and moisture-wicking chinos with four-way stretch. Worth every penny. Our picks include the Apollo dress shirt ($98), Aviator chinos ($118), and Atlas dress socks ($18) .

Cost: various by product

EcoSphere Closed Aquatic Ecosystem
The Original EcoSphere is the world’s first totally enclosed ecosystem—a complete, self-contained, and self-sustaining miniature world encased in glass. This work of art is a perfect balance of active micro-organisms, small shrimp, algae, and bacteria, each existing in filtered sea water. Because the living organisms within the EcoSphere utilize their resources without overpopulating or contaminating their environment, the EcoSphere requires virtually no maintenance and lasts for years.

Cost: $55.99 on Amazon

Toys / Games

Risk: Doctor Who \ Image: Amazon
Risk: Doctor Who \ Image: Amazon

Doctor Who Risk: The Dalek Invasion of Earth
I thought it was unfathomable that anyone would spend upwards of forty or fifty bucks for Risk game….until I found it was a Doctor Who version. The Doctor Who Risk: The Dalek Invasion of Earth is an “absolutely fantastic” spin on the popular Risk game, puts the player in control of five Dalek armies, both classic and paradigm. In addition to players trying to defeat each other, there will be plenty of conflict with 11 regenerations of The Doctor. Even if you own other versions of Risk (and we already have three variations in our home), the urge to “exterminate” your opponents may be too much to pass up.

Cost: $49.99 on Think Geek and $40.27 Amazon

Star Wars Black Series Figures
The Black Series figures are a big hit among collectors. The detailed design and attractive packaging make these a must for any Star Wars action figure collector. I know many a 501st Legion member who hunt these down for sport, so if you see one, grab it up for dad’s collection.

Cost: Starting at $17.99 at Target

Zombie Survival \ Image: Amazon
Zombie Survival \ Image: Amazon

Zombie Defense Solutions 3-Day Survival Kit by VooDoo Tactical
Both my husband and I love zombie stories and camping, and this 3-day survival kit is right up his alley. Packaged in a Zombie Apocalypse preparation box, it has a five-year shelf life and contains food, water, lighting, basic first aid items, tools and a mylar emergency blanket to accommodate one adult easily for three days in an emergency situation.

This is a practical gift for outdoors loving geek, as it can be carried easily in the trunk of a vehicle for road trips or camping. It’s also a fun way to use the zombie scenario to educate your own kids about the importance of being prepared for more real disasters such as extreme weather or being stranded in wilderness areas.

Zombies or no zombies, dad will be prepared.

Cost: $27.95 on Amazon and Barre Army Navy

Sphero 2.0
Sphero is a ball of challenging fun for everyone, even pets. At first I thought it was going to be easy to get the ball to go where I wanted it to go, until I realized it has a mind of it’s own. My husband and son had a blast teasing the dog with it. She knew it was a ball, but she couldn’t understand why it was chasing her. Needless to say we had fun watching her reactions to it. You can add to the fun by downloading free games in iTunes.

Cost: $99.00 on Amazon

Gallium \ Image: Amazon
Gallium \ Image: Amazon

Gallium is the metal that melts in your hand. Keep it in a bottle and submerge bottle in warm water to liquify. Caution: Gallium causes metals to corrode and will stain glass, so be careful.

Cost: $15.99 on Amazon

Halo Headband
The Halo Headband is the answer when engaging in any sweat-producing activity such as cycling, running, even roof repair. It’s thin, adjustable, fits under a helmet or hat, and rinses clean.

Cost: $10.48 on Amazon
Disclaimer: Some of the GeekMoms who submitted to this post may have received review samples of their suggestions. 

5 Geeky Paper-and-String Easter Egg Ideas

5 geeky eggs
Geeky decoupage and string art egg ideas include (clockwise from top left) a Game of Thrones dragon egg, a Spider-Man web, a Sherlock wall, a Fourth Doctor scarf, and a classic geeky fandom collage. All images by Lisa Kay Tate.

Each spring, we try to make one Easter egg that stands out from the others using simple decoupage methods with little more than paper or string.

This often includes a look at whatever geeky passion is prominent in the pop culture world, and choosing five of our favorites from this and past years. With exception of the Spider-Man egg, each of these eggs took less than an hour to complete, and kids of all ages can make or help make them.

To use a real egg, gently poke a small hole at both ends, poke a toothpick into one end and mix up the yoke a bit, then hold the egg over a sink and slowly blow into one hole. The contents should easily ooze out the other end, leaving a lightweight, hollow shell. If working with younger kids, a plastic egg will work fine for most of these ideas.

The first three eggs use a basic decoupage method. Paint the egg with a layer of decoupage glue (like Mod Podge) or use one part water and one part school glue. Then, paste the images on the egg. Paint another layer over the top to seal the image. It will dry clear.

GoT and Sherlock eggs
Game of Thrones and Sherlock eggs.

The Classic Geek. The simplest by far, this egg is a scrapbook-style collage of all things geeky. Find small images from old comic books or magazines and layer them over the egg scrapbook-style. This lets you celebrate as many fandoms as you want on one egg. This also works well as a Christmas or holiday ornament.

BBC Sherlock’s Wall. The floral, black and white, and much-abused Sherlock wallpaper is a quickly recognizable pattern among BBC fans, and free downloadable wallpaper patterns can be found on several fan and design sites. Print this pattern out on lightweight paper and cut it to fit around the egg. Keep in mind that the pattern will overlap itself a little on both ends of the egg, but it won’t be too noticeable. Once dry, use a toothpick and yellow craft paint to draw on Sherlock’s “happy face,” then gently bore five “bullet holes” near the face using a small screwdriver or drill bit.

Game of Thrones “Paper Bag” Egg. This is a craft I did when I first started writing for my old blog, as well as for a site that was at the time called IHOGeek. I’m proud to say that thanks to a tweet or two from famous Game of Thrones fans like actors Aziz Ansari and (so I’ve been told) Nathan Fillion, this egg idea went viral…and there really is nothing to it!

Cut some round or tear-shaped “dragon scales,” about a half-inch wide, from a brown paper bag. Overlap them in scale pattern until covered. Run the side of a black crayon over the scales to antique them before adding the final layer of decoupage.

No, I don’t let my kids don’t watch Game of Thrones (obviously), but they do love dragons. This egg could just as easily hatch a Norbert, Toothless, Saphira, or Smaug.

string art eggs
Fourth Doctor scarf and Spider-Man web string art eggs.

The Fourth Doctor’s Scarf. This is a straightforward string art pattern to make, as it involves just coiling different colored stripes (green, red, yellow, blue, beige, etc.) around the egg to resemble the striped pattern of the Tom Baker-era Doctor Who scarf. To be more precise, alternate the widths of each color. If you’re really a perfectionist, check out these Fourth Doctor scarf patterns designs.

Not into Doctor Who? This same idea can be put in place to make some Hogwarts house scarves.

Spider-Man’s Web.  This egg is a little more time-consuming. It also includes three more materials in addition to the floss: a balloon, about 20 seed beads, and a spider (either the small plastic novelty-like ones that accumulate around Halloween or a little craft store jewelry charm). You can also cut a small Spider-Man symbol out of paper (about a half-inch wide), if you can’t find these other items. The end result should look like a little spider’s web with a “radioactive spider” dangling in the middle.

Spider-Man's egg
A closer look at the little spider hidden in the web. Don’t get bit.

First, pour a little decoupage mix into a small dish. Cut three or four two-foot strands of light blue, beige, or white yarn, and string a few red or blue seed beads randomly on each. Dip each strand in the mix, careful not to get them tangled, and drag your thumb and forefinger down the strand to wipe off the excess mix.

Blow up the balloon a small ways, so it is fairly egg-shaped. Lay each strand over the balloon in a web-like pattern. Use as many strands as you want, but leave a gap big enough to fit your spider through on one end. Let the egg dry overnight until the strings are stiff, and pop the balloon to leave the outer string art shell.

Finally, hang the spider image or charm on an additional piece of floss and place it through a gap big enough in the shell to accommodate the spider. Position the egg upright and position the spider so it is dangling in the center of the egg. Tie it off on one end. This egg looks best hanging, so leave a little floss at the end to hang it.

Note: I have done this craft with a real egg shell. It looks good, but it takes a little extra effort to crumble the shell and clean it out of the string egg. If working with kids, balloons are the easiest option.

Hang onto each of these eggs and keep an ever-growing basket display of geeky and creative happiness. Who knows where the bunny trail will lead you this year?

Wear A Bow Tie Day and Other Wholidays

bow tie
Everyone is encouraged to don a cool bow tie today in honor of the Eleventh Doctor. All images by Lisa Kay Tate.

“April 3 is Wear A Bow Tie Day. I’m wearing mine to school tomorrow!”

My 11-year-old informed me of this right after dinner, reminding me there is a new fan-created day to remember The Eleventh Doctor.

As it turns out, Whovians around the world are encouraged to wear a bow tie today in memory of the reign of the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith), and the date “The Eleventh Hour” was broadcast for the first time. My daughter was more than eager to participate in this one.

In addition, April 3 is also the Fish Fingers and Custard Day, in celebration this first full appearance of the Eleventh Doctor. Fans are invited to feast on Eleven’s favorite treat that day, preferably while wearing bow tie, I would imagine.

Just to get in the spirit, here are five more dates concocted by and intended for true Whovians:

tally marks•  April 23: Silent Days (also known as  Impossible Astronaut Day ). The date of The Doctor’s death is supposedly April 22, and the first time The Silents appeared on television was April 23.  Whovians are encouraged to place tally marks on their skin, visible for other people to see on either of these days….but not tell anyone else why they have them. This day was apparently a “hush-hush” event so no non-Whovians could be in on the joke, but thanks to social media, that didn’t last too long.

• May 7: Black Spot Day. This is the day the Eleventh Doctor’s “Curse of the Black Spot” first aired, and Whovians are encouraged to draw a block spot on their palm to celebrate.

• June 11: Bad Wolf Day. The penultimate Ninth Doctor episode, “Bad Wolf” first aired on this day, and fans should mark this date by writing “Bad Wolf” on slips of paper to post around, or in chalk on sidewalks or in other public venues (legally, of course). No permanent graffiti is encouraged. Note, this celebration has been held on different days in June.

Some of the many reasons Whovians have to celebrate their fandom.

• November 23: TARDIS Day (also called Doctor Who Day). This is the “official” unofficial Doctor Who holiday (or Wholiday). It’s the date in which the very first episode of Doctor Who aired, introducing the world to The Doctor, his companions, and the Time and Relative Dimensions in Space (TARDIS). This is the time when Whovians celebrate their fandom with everything from watching parties to gift swaps.

• December 21: International Dalek Remembrance Day. This commemorates the date in 1963 when The Doctor’s most recognizable (and somehow beloved) villains and heartless killing machines first appeared on-screen. Whovians are urged to talk like Daleks, mention Daleks whenever they can, and toss around the word “exterminate!” as much as possible.

Last year, fans also celebrated a “Dalek Day” on August 8, on what would have been the birthday of Dalek creator Terry Nation, who passed away earlier that year.

So, bust out that bow tie, warm up the fish fingers, and mark the calendar for the rest of the year. After all, a Time Lord with more than 900 years of adventure has many opportunities to celebrate.

The Doctor vs. Sherlock: The Ultimate Geek Face-Off

Screenshot of the Doctor vs Sherlock pin. Screenshot by Ariane Coffin.
Screenshot of the Doctor vs. Sherlock pin. Screenshot by Ariane Coffin.

About one year ago, I came across a simple image on Pinterest. It read:

“The Doctor & Sherlock knock on your door. The Doctor asks you to be his companion. Sherlock asks you to be his blogger. Who do you choose?”

A simple premise, but a very tough decision! Who would I choose? I repinned the image with my own comment, “Depends on The Doctor. 9th for me, yes. Sherlock would be interesting but quite rude, right?”

Since then, that pin has been the one I’ve received the most comments on. First observation: Nobody on Pinterest can type or spell. Second, Doctor beats Sherlock! I pulled the data from the Pinterest comments and added to it the votes I received from the GeekMoms, for a total of 48 responses. Out of 48, 14 chose Sherlock, 20 chose the Doctor (in any incarnation), 7 tried to connive their way into picking both, 5 people had complicated answers (i.e. “it depends on the Doctor,” along with other factors), and finally 2 people went rogue by choosing Martin Freeman/Watson.

Doctor vs Sherlock: The results. Graph by Ariane Coffin.
Doctor vs. Sherlock: The results. Graph by Ariane Coffin.

Some of my favorite comments were the arguments about ways to choose both. Good point, Madisyn, good point.

Doctor vs Sherlock commenter debate. Screenshot by Ariane Coffin.
Doctor vs. Sherlock commenter debate. Madisyn did correct “bit” to “but” in a later comment. Screenshot by Ariane Coffin.

Perhaps the single most interesting answer I received came from my husband. “Why would I be a companion? I’d just be the freaking Doctor!” Is it just my husband or are all men this cocky?

How about you, who would you choose?

A Chat With The Witty Little Knitter

The Season 18 scarf and the “Shada” scarf are two of the downloadable patterns found on Tara Carstensen’s site. Images from Witty Little Knitter.

Since she was 15 years old, Tara Carstensen has been watching Doctor Who and knitting Fourth Doctor scarves.

Like many Whovians, she intensely studied photographs and videos to create patterns for her early attempts, although she said the results were “crude and totally incorrect.” As her work began to improve, she received her first official BBC pattern from John Nathan Turner, producer of the series from 1980 to 1989.

By 2005, she begin studying the scarves even closer. She even had a chance to examine what she calls the “Shada” scarf (the pattern used in the famous episode from Season 17 that didn’t air until 1992), as well as the Season 18 variant scarf. From there, she begin to design patterns, find colors and yarn types, and create scarves that would be as close to accurate as any fan-made scarf available.

Today, many scarf knitters consider her the “go-to” site for the best patterns. They visit her site for pattern downloads of scarves from classic Who seasons 12 through 18, as well as the Shada scarf, a “blue variant,” and the Seventh Doctor’s sweater vest.

She also teaches knitting classes for those with some knitting experience at conventions throughout the country. Upcoming classes will be held at L.I. Who in Long Island in November, as well as at the world’s largest and longest-running fan-created Doctor Who convention, Gallifrey One, which is coming to Los Angeles in February 2015.

For American Doctor Who fans, the Fourth Doctor’s scarf is arguably the most popular and recognizable costume prop in the history of the show, but Carstensen said, from her experience, that it is primarily a U.S. Whovian obsession.

Tara Carstensen (aka Witty Little Knitter) works on one of her popular Fourth Doctor scarves at Sun City SciFi in El Paso. Photo by Rick Tate.

“In the UK, it has a bit of a negative connotation,” she said. “People who wear them are often branded as ‘nutters.’ I’ve worn a Who scarf several times in the UK and received a not-so-warm welcome among other Who fans.”

She said United Kingdom fans are warming up to the scarf today, as it is getting a little more love in its home nation. She feels the reason for the scarf’s American popularity likely comes from the Fourth Doctor being many American viewers’ first peek at the series.

“(In) the States, most people’s first Doctor was Tom Baker,” she said. “He had a seven-year run and PBS stations could often get a deal on it with other British shows. So, most people before the reboot in 2005 think of the scarf when they think of Doctor Who.”

Even the Doctor himself has taken notice of Carstensen’s work. Baker owns one of her scarves, as well as actress Daphne Ashbrook (Grace Holloway from the Eighth Doctor movie) and talk-show-host and proud Whovian Craig Ferguson, among other famous customers. The Seventh, Eighth, and Eleventh Doctors, Paul McGann, Sylvester McCoy, and Matt Smith, have also worn her scarves for convention photo ops.

“Well, of course, Tom Baker receiving one of my scarves was a high point,” she said. “When two of my scarves appeared on the same episode of The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson—one was Craig’s the other was Nerdist’s (Chris Hardwick)—that was another high point.”

It takes her about 40 hours to knit the “basic” Doctor Who scarf.

“I once cranked one out for a last-minute charity auction in a week,” she said, “but that was eight hours a day of knitting, every day, for a week.”

tardis and truck
Carstensen’s full-sized TARDIS prop makes its way around the country with the help of the TARDIS Chase and Recovery Vehicle. Photos by Rick Tate.

While scarves may be what she is best known for with crafters, her other favorite creations include a full-sized TARDIS some friends and her former husband built in 2008. The nine-foot-high, half-ton police box makes its home in her living room, but has traveled with her to conventions and events from Los Angeles to Atlanta, where thousands of people have gotten the chance to take their picture with it.  It also has a webcam, working lights and sound effects, and has been known to play music. The TARDIS’s transportation of choice is her TARDIS Chase and Recovery Vehicle (aka THE TRV), a custom Toyota Tacoma she claims is run by a Gallifreyan Flux Capacitor “jiggery-pokeried” for her by the Tenth Doctor and Back to the Future’s Doc Brown.

She has other projects in the works, as well.

“I’m currently working on building a Dalek, “ she said. “I’m always collecting small TARDISes and I finally have my collection of TARDIS keys.”

Her autograph collection is another continual work in progress.

“I have a book I’ve been collecting Who autographs in for 30 years,” she said. “I have nine of the 13 actors who have played The Doctor sign it, plus close to a hundred companions, authors, directors, producers, and other people directly responsible for keeping the show going for 50 years in it, and it’s one of my most prized possessions.”

Carstensen encouraged knitters to not be afraid to tackle their own Fourth Doctor scarf and offers some words of advice for those reluctant to get started.

“Join a knitting group.  Look in local coffee shops and libraries or start your own,” she said. “Ravelry.com is another great recourse, if there simply aren’t any other knitters in your area.”

She said setting reasonable goals helps as well.

“(Say to yourself) ‘Today, I’m gonna get through three stripes’ or  ‘Today I’m going to sit down for an hour and knit,’” she suggested. “Once you’ve mastered the garter stitch, knitting can be quite relaxing, even a form of moving meditation.  I read or watch TV while knitting.  I also knit in the movie theater, in lines, anywhere I’m stuck waiting on something.  It’s a great way to feel like you’re accomplishing something when all around you is chaos.”

She said the effort is certainly worth it when she sees how much people love the scarves.

“I know how happy they make people, and then they make people who see them being worn happy.  So knitting one spreads a lotta happy around,” Carstensen said. “That gives me a great sense of accomplishment and makes me feel that I’m adding some random happiness to the world.”

To see more of Carstensen’s work or download her patterns, visit wittylittleknitter.com.

Em-Con Recap

Em-Con © Lee Wallis
Em-Con © Lee Wallis

Last weekend I attended the first Em-Con at the Albert Hall in Nottingham, England. The convention was the first of its kind in the region. I enjoyed myself immensely.

However for many attendees, the day was beset by difficulties in even getting inside the con.

For a small convention in its first year, Em-Con certainly attracted a good amount of talent through its doors. Stars from Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Red Dwarf, and Star Wars were among those who came along to meet fans and sign autographs. A number of comic book artists including Andrew Wildman and Lee Sullivan were present, each working on commissions and signing prints, and a nice variety of stalls were on offer so everyone could afford to take something home no matter their budget.

One of my favorite things about any convention is watching the artists work and chatting with stall holders; everyone at Em-Con was welcoming and happy to chat to the point where I found myself running late for panels.

Doctor Who Panel © Sophie Brown
Doctor Who Panel © Sophie Brown

Throughout the day a number of talks were given in the main hall. Unlike at many conventions, these were included in the cost of entry allowing guests to fill their day without emptying their wallets. The Doctor Who/Torchwood talk featured cast from both shows including Eve Myles (Gwen Cooper), Caitlin Blackwood (Young Amy Pond), and Frazer Hines (Jamie McCrimmon), all of whom appeared in high spirits. We learned that the Torchwood cast are eager to reprise their roles for a fifth season and that both Caitlin and Eve would love to play a female Doctor.

The Game of Thrones panel was attended by Kristian Nairn (Hodor), Ian McElhinney (Barristan Selmy), and Gethin Anthony (Renly Baratheon) who dropped a few minor spoilers about the upcoming fourth season.The panel was disrupted slightly when a wandering Cylon distracted Gethin during one of his anecdotes much to everyone’s amusement.

The Red Dwarf panel was also subject to disruption by Cylon—one of the issues of having green room access at the rear of the main hall—and was thoroughly enjoyable even to someone like myself who has only seen a handful of episodes. The panel gathered together the entire core cast including Craig Charles (Dave Lister), Danny John-Jules (The Cat), Chris Barrie (Arnold Rimmer), and Robert Llewellyn (Kryten). Everyone had stories to tell about their time on the show, but a particular favorite was Robert’s recollection of standing in a Chicago elevator with a Klingon who told him how much he appreciated his work—through his interpreter.

Cops and Monsters © Fraser Coull
Cops and Monsters © Fraser Coull

The first panel of the day was given over to Cops and Monsters, a new Indiegogo-funded webseries set in Scotland. The show is along the lines of Torchwood and Being Human. Set five years in the future, it follows the Paranormal Investigation Team Scotland, a new branch of UK government tasked with keeping the peace among humans, zombies, vampires, and werewolves now that supernatural creatures have come out of their proverbial closets.

We were shown the eight minute minisode that has so far been funded, and heard from the large number of cast and crew who had come along to promote the show. We were even treated to an impromptu rap in the style of Batman’s Bane courtesy of series star Mark Harvey. The minisode has just been released to the public and you can watch it on the Cops and Monsters website.

Everything going on inside the venue was great. The building was filled with families; everywhere I looked were parents and grandparents with children of every age from babies to teenagers. It was possibly the most family-filled show I have ever attended and it was wonderful for that. I overheard a seven year old nitpicking with one of the comic book artists about his portrayal of Cybermen and saw a pair of young brothers in Torchwood Institute tees who were so excited to spot Eve Myles entering the panel that they could barely sit still.

Members of the 501st UK Garrison, Rebel Legion UK and Reel Icons entertain the queue © Sophie Brown
Members of the 501st UK Garrison, Rebel Legion UK and Reel Icons entertain the queue © Sophie Brown

However it was outside that the problems were mostly to be found. Queues stretched around the building for hours and hundreds of ticket holders were eventually forced to give up and leave before they even got inside.

Following the event’s hashtag on Twitter, I saw dozens of individuals talking about waits of four or five hours to get inside, meaning of course that they missed out on most of the event if they ever made it through the doors.

Those queuing with children were often unable to wait that long. Reading up afterwards, the core of the problem appeared to be that almost three times the venue’s capacity had been sold in pre-booked tickets, and more were being sold on the door before these people had even been allowed in.

Wandering around on the convention floor felt dangerous at times due to crowding and the police arrived by lunchtime querying understandable health and safety concerns. The organizers have issued a formal apology and have promised refunds but sadly the damage to their reputation has already been done. Not a great start for a brand new event on an already busy circuit.

Next year Em-Con is upgrading, moving from the small Albert Hall to the much larger Capital FM Arena. Hopefully this will go some way towards alleviating the issues seen this year but only if lessons are learned by all involved. For those of us inside the venue (and who don’t suffer from claustrophobia), this was a great convention and a lot has to be said for finally having an event of this sort in this so-far forgotten region.

But for those stuck outside in the cold with miserable children after having paid to get in, it will take an awful lot for them to risk it again next year. I can’t say I blame them.

Entry to Em-Con was provided by the organizers for this review.

Come to the Pink Side, We Have Tutus

Photo Ella Rose: Melody Mooney

This is Ella Rose; she is three. Her favorite day of the week is Tuesday, which is ballet class day. She loves pink and she loves tutus.

Ella was born into a very geek-centric family, so her girly-girl behavior came as a bit of a surprise to her father and me. “Pink” was never a big-bad four-letter word in our home, but we also knew how influenced she would be by the popularity of Disney Princesses among her schoolmates. We wanted to give her options, so we practiced a huge amount of “geek balance” right from the start.

She learned her alphabet from the Star Wars ABC book. Her first eight-inch dolls were Anakin Skywalker and Qui-Gon Jinn, not Barbies. I shopped in the boys’ section of Target for all of her shirts, which had superheroes on them, not Mini Mouse. We bought her Doctor Who hair clips and a teddy bear companion at local craft fairs. My husband even joined in and donated to the Goldieblox Kickstarter campaign, which created toys to get girls interested in engineering.We were content with the Jedi training of our little geekling. Maybe, though, we were smug. We might even have been presumptuous.

As Ella grew, she began to exert her own personality, she chose what she wanted to wear and play with. That’s when the tide of pink and tutus began to rise. Questions regarding negative gender influence and threats to her developing mighty girl power began to plague me. Would my GeekMom card get revoked if it were revealed that Snow White was her favorite princess and not Leia?

Yoda Potty Trained Jedi for 900 years Photo: Melody Mooney

Yoda was always perched on Ella’s pink princess potty as she trained in the bathroom. But looking him in the eye became uncomfortable.  I felt a great disturbance in our family force.

I felt a strange sense of guilt about all of this. Were we not, after all, huge advocates for choice? It seemed to me that we were restricting her play and imagination to things that fit our ideology. Even stranger was that her male playmates were getting praised for putting on a crown and fairy wings. Why was it so wrong for Ella? I realize the important groundwork that has been laid and the awareness that is growing when it comes to young girls, role models, career and life choices. Frozen and the wonderful message it provides was one of her first movie theater experiences. It is truly exciting to think of Ella’s nearly unlimited future as a woman. We could be looking at a future engineer, a future NASA pilot, or world leader. What if her future includes studying ballet at Juilliard and wearing tutus for a living? Would limiting those first experimental choices because they are viewed as damaging be playing god with her future? As parents—even geekling-parents—we need to guide, educate, and support her in whatever path she chooses. Yes, we must accept and brace ourselves that she may even find A New Hope, Dungeons and Dragons, and comic books terribly boring and lame.

Time moves so quickly. Why not let her dance in whatever color makes her happy now? There are very serious challenges just around her future’s corner. Flights of fancy, glitter, and princess dresses will give way to other stages. Letting go, we are trusting that we will all find balance in this exploration.  Leaving today for her ballet class, I smiled at her and surrendered to the Pink Side. After all, they do have seriously cute tutus.